There was a "significant increase" in the number of new malware specimens detected during 2005, with research published today reporting a year on year surge of over 240 percent.
In total, over 46,000 new threats, including viruses, worms, trojans, bots and other types of malware, were detected by security firm Panda Software in 2005, compared to over 13,000 threats detected in 2004.
Of the total figure, the number of bots represented 10,000 new detections in 2005. The number of new viruses, on the other hand, decreased dramatically, whereas the percentages of worms and trojans detected were still significant.
"2005 stands out for two reasons: the huge increase in the number of malware specimens and the lack of visible epidemics," said Luis Corrons, director of PandaLabs.
"The combination of these two factors leads us to think that the cybercrime world intends to use this situation as a smokescreen to keep us busy while they carry out lucrative activities, like designing custom designed malware or industrial espionage. Situations like that of November 2005, when five worms from the Sober family were released in a few hours with over 350 slight variations, clearly demonstrate this."
PandaLabs noted that it currently detects around 300 new malware variants a day. Extrapolating for this figure, by the end of this year, the number of new variants detected could exceed 100,000, which is more than the computer threats detected in the previous 20 years.