The research, which was published yesterday in a blog from PandaLabs, is based on an analysis of 67 million computers in 2008, according to the security software vendor. The researchers found that 1.1 percent of the worldwide population of Internet users has been actively exposed to identity theft malware.
"We predict that the infection rate will increase by an additional 336 percent per month throughout 2009, based on the trend of the previous 14 months," PandaLabs says. The number of PCs infected with identify theft malware increased by 800 percent between the first half of 2008 and the second half, the report says.
Thirty-five percent of the infected PCs had up-to-date antivirus software installed, PandaLabs says.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, the average time victims spend resolving identity theft issues is 30 hours per incident. Using that figure, PandaLabs estimates that the cumulative cost from identity-theft-related malware could reach 90 million hours.
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