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The prevalence of scareware packages has reached epidemic proportions, with 485,000 different samples detected in the first half of 2009 alone.

The figure is more than five times the combined figure for the whole of 2008, according to statistics from the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG). The huge figures are explained by the hacker practice of changing the checksum of every file. The tactic is designed to foil less sophisticated anti-malware defences.

Meanwhile the volume of phishing reports sent to APWG hit a high of 37,165 in May, around seven per cent more than last year’s high of 34,758 in October. Payment services such as PayPal became the principle target of phishing attacks, displacing financial services during the first half of 2009. Sweden eclipsed the US as the country hosting the highest number of phishing fraud websites.

More than half (54 per cent) or 11.9 million of the computers scanned by Panda Security, which contributed to APWG's report, were infected with some form of malware. Banking trojan infections detected by the group almost tripled (up 186 per cent) between Q4 2008 and Q2 2009.

APWG's report can be found here. ®

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