New research data out today shows that the rate of new malware variants released by malicious attackers continues to break records. According to the G DATA SecurityLabs Malware Report, new malware types were discovered less than every four seconds and 4.1 million new strains were found in the second half of 2014, an increase of close to 125 percent over the first half. Over the course of the entire year, nearly 6 million new malware strains were discovered. This is a 77 percent increase over 2013.
The data shows that in the second half of 2014, Trojans still remained atop the categories tracked by G DATA researchers, but could be on pace to be supplanted by adware. Adware showed the highest rate of growth among all of the malware categories, at a rate of 31.4 percent. While the number of new downloaders was on the rise during the second half, adware's growth rate outpaced that rise to take over the number two spot on the malware category chart. Meanwhile, spyware increased in prevalence while backdoors decreased, putting them in the number four and five spot, respectively.
Interestingly, while rootkits ranked ninth in the categories list, the second half of the year saw a huge spike in their prevalence. The report showed that there were 18 times more new variants than in the first half of 2014.
Specifically within the Trojan market, researchers reported that the second half of the year was novel in that there were no significant innovations compared to previous years.
"In the past, more and more new Trojans have been appearing very quickly in this sector over the years, with new groups in the background using new attack methods. However, in recent months there have been few changes to report," the study said, explaining that in spite of this the volume of attacks is still rising. According to G DATA, the number of banking Trojan attacks rose by 44.5 percent.
The authors speculated that the banking Trojan market seems to have consolidated due to a number of reasons.
"Improved security measures by banks are making it more and more difficult for online bank robbers to get money from bank customers," explains Ralf Benzmüller, head of G DATA SecurityLabs.
Some of the factors at play include an increase of criminal prosecutions against attackers, improved two-factor authentication measures and greater dependence by banks on anomaly detection to reduce fraud. As researchers explained, there's an increased risk for criminals and fraud takes more effort for lower yield. There's also a higher barrier to entry as attacks take "a certain amount of expertise and infrastructure" to carry out.