Symantec's latest Internet Security Threat Report warns of an increase in attacks on home PC users, as well as a jump in malicious users compromising systems to steal information.
Home users are by far the most harassed sector of PC users, according to the report, accounting for 86 percent of all targeted attack victims.
Widespread internet worms are also giving way to smaller, more targeted attacks that have a better chance of obtaining personal information, the report found.
Kelly Martin, group product manager for Symantec, told SCMagazine.com today that home users should keep their operating systems fully patched and use up-to-date anti-virus protection.
"The biggest (trend) for me is that attackers are targeting the client, really focusing on targeting the web browsers. That's definitely a shift. Attackers in the past looked at the whole perimeter network," she said. "That has a direct implication to home users. They always tend to be the weakest link."
Hackers are also adjusting their techniques to evade secure systems, noting that 18 percent of all malware code samples are unique.
The report also saw an increase in image spam - phishers using multiple randomized images to bypass email filters. Symantec found 157,477 unique phishing messages during the first half of this year - an increase of 81 percent from the previous six months. During that time, spam made up 54 percent of all monitored email messages, a hike of 4 percent from the previous half-year.
Symantec identified more than 4.6 million active botnet PCs - often used for DoS attacks. Modular malicious code also accounted for 79 percent of the top 50 malicious code samples reported to Symantec.
The United States was the location of most DoS attacks - 54 percent of the worldwide total. China had the highest number of bot-infected PCs, with 20 percent of the global toll.
Arthur Wong, senior vice president of Symantec Security Response, said in a news release that his company is adjusting its strategies in response to hackers.
"Attackers see end users as the weakest link in the security chain and are constantly targeting them in an effort to profit," he said. "Given the effect this has on our large and growing customer base, Symantec introduced new metrics to further understand how to better protect customers against these security concerns in years to come."
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