The presence of malware, software intended to damage or disable computers and computer systems, on the internet has significantly increased in 2014, according to a new research report.
Cyber security firm, CYREN Security Lab, in its latest annual Cyberthreat Yearbook, said there was a 159% increase in malware URLs tracked by it in 2014. The firm says it monitors 17 billion transactions each day to protect more than 600 million users.
The report also showed that average daily number of emails containing malware increased by 50% to 2.5 billion.
In relation to spamming, the report noted that 42.34% of all spam was pharmacy related with the most frequent topic followed by job offers. However, there was a 30% decline in the average daily amount of spam to 54.6 billion.
"In December, CYREN observed its largest email attached malware outbreak for the year, with 10.7 billion emails sent on the 18th of the month, followed by another 10.7 billion malware-embedded emails on the 23<sup>rd," Lior Kohavi, chief technical officer at CYREN, said in a statement.
"In the first and second quarters of 2014, CYREN began to observe macro-malware belonging to the Trojan families of Zbot and Dridex. Then in early November, CYREN observed an outbreak of over 3.02 billion emails containing advanced second generation macro-malware."
He added that macro malware was created in response to increased security measures, and its authors are trying to repurpose older tricks that users may have forgotten.
In 2014, big companies such as retailer Home Depot and film studio Sony Pictures suffered sophisticated hacking attacks. The Home Depot breach yielded about 110 million stolen pieces of sensitive information, including social security numbers and email addresses. Meanwhile, Sony suffered significant brand damage in addition to losing sensitive emails and employee social security numbers.
CYREN noted that enterprises of all sizes are now besieged by cybercrime at an alarming rate.
It added that cybercriminals are now increasingly targeting smartphone users as well by authoring mobile malware. During 2014, there was 61% increase in the amount of mobile malware targeting Android devices, according to CYREN.
Organisations that use the Industrial Internet of Things are also not safe from cyberattacks, according to the firm. It warned that such firms will become more vulnerable if they fail to properly secure their latest technologies.