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Malware crosses 200,000 milestone

Fear of a bot planet

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Anti-virus firm McAfee released protection for its 200,000th ever malware threat this week1.

While bots are still the leading cause of this dramatic growth, exploits and downloaders are a close second (see breakdown here). Email worms saw significantly smaller growth over the last two years compared to types of malware.

McAfee's database has doubled from 100,000 items since September 2004, demonstrating that spyware purveyors and VXers are continuing to keep net security firms busy.

"It took 18 years for our database to reach 100,000 malicious threats — and just under two years to double to 200,000," said Stuart McClure, senior vice president, global research and threats at McAfee. "Although security awareness continues to improve, hackers and malicious code authors are releasing threats faster than ever before, with approximately 200 per cent more malicious threats per day than two years ago."

Since January, McAfee has added approximately 32,000 new threats to its database and is on track to exceed 60,000 new threats by the end of 2006. By comparison, it added 56,880 new threats throughout 2005 and 27,340 in 2004. ®

1 Anti-virus firms have never been able to agree on the name of items of malware. The same is true on their figures for numbers of malware partly because of the different performance of rival heuristic (generic) detection schemes. If security firms encounter a virus variant that doesn't require a new signature then they're less inclined to describe it as a new malware threat. The scope of products, for example, whether they are programmed to detect items of adware, also has a large part to play.

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