Malware in 2007 more than doubles year-on-year: McAfee

Unique malware increased by nearly 150 percent to about 132,000 last year, from under 54,000 in 2006, reports the security company.

The number of unique malware last year grew significantly over 2006, with threats increasingly localized, according to security company McAfee.

McAfee's third annual Global Threat Report (PDF), also known as Sage, indicated that 131,862 unique malware were identified in 2007, a 146-percent increase over the 53,567 malware recorded in the previous year. The report, titled One Internet, Many Worlds, was released Thursday.

McAfee also predicted that the average number of new malware daily will increase from the current 527 to 750 by the end of 2008.

Attacks are getting increasingly sophisticated, with cybercriminals crafting malware specific to the region or country, said Jeff Green, senior vice president at McAfee Avert Labs.

"Cybercrooks have become extremely deft at learning the nuances of the local regions and creating malware specific to each country," noted Green. "They're not skilled just at computer programming--they're skilled at psychology and linguistics, too."

In China, for example, the popularity of online games has led to a rise in Trojans designed to steal passwords to online gaming accounts and virtual assets.

China has about 137 million Internet users--representing almost 40 percent of Asia's Internet population--and a quarter play online games. The Real Money Trade (RMT), where virtual assets are traded for real-world money, is a market worth about US$900 million, according to estimates in the McAfee report.