Online threats to confidential data are on the rise, according to Symantec's latest Internet Threat Report.

Between July and December of last year, the amount of malware that aims to expose sensitive information made up 54 percent of the top 50 malicious code samples examined by Symantec, a 44 percent increase from the first six months of 2004.

The increase was mostly due to a proliferation of Trojan horses, according to the report.

Phishing attacks also increased. By the end of 2004, Symantec's antifraud filters were blocking an average of 33 million phishing attacks per week, up from an average of nine million per week in July 2004.

Symantec also found that the number of web applicaiton vulnerabilities rose. Nearly 48 percent of all vulnerabilities documented in the second half of 2004 were web application vulnerabilities, up from 39 percent in the first half of the year.

The vendor also cited an increase in severe vulnerabilities that are easy to exploit, and a rise in the number of viruses and worms attacking Windows.

www.symantec.com