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Malware authors have stepped up production rates still further in their efforts to overwhelm anti-virus defences with banking Trojans and other crud.

During the first three months of 2011 an average of 73,000 new strains of malware have been created every day: 10,000 more than during the same period last year, according to stats from Panda Security. Around 70 per cent of these malware strains were Trojans, with viruses making up 17 per cent of the sample, the second most common category.

Worms (eight per cent) also made up a significant percentage while other once-significant categories of malware, such as adware, have dwindled away to background noise levels. This is illustrated by Panda's pie-chart here.

Many would think that Windows PCs in Western Europe and the US are frequently infected with information-stealing Trojans, spyware, worms and other strains of malware. However, scans using Panda's on demand virus scanning technology suggest PCs in China, Thailand and Taiwan head the ranking for the most pox-ridden worldwide, with infection ratios of almost 70 per cent.

PandaLabs latest quarterly report can be found here.

Panda's figures show the continuation of a trend already well underway last year. A study from Symantec, published on Tuesday, reports 286 million new threats in 2010.

Hackers and their virus-writing allies are increasingly targeting vulnerabilities in Java in their persistent attempts to break into computer systems, the net security giant warns. Attack toolkits, such as The Phoenix, automate Java-based attacks that work against multiple browser platforms.

Nearly three quarters of all spam (74 per cent) sent in 2010 related to pharmaceutical products. Most of this junk mail - typically offering diet pills or male enhancement drugs from sites peddling prescription medicines without a prescription - came from botnets, networks of compromised PCs. A batch of 10,000 bot-infected computers can be yours for as little as $15 via underground forums, Symantec adds.

The latest edition of Symantec's internet threat report can be downloaded here (pdf - registration required). ®

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