Symantec.s latest Internet Security Threat Report found an increase in threats designed to facilitate cyber crime.
While past attacks were designed to destroy data, today's attacks are increasingly designed to silently steal data for profit without doing noticeable damage that would alert a user to its presence, the company said.
In its previous report, Symantec cautioned that malicious code for profit was on the rise, and this trend continued during the second half of 2005.
Malicious code threats that could reveal confidential information rose from 74 percent of the top 50 malicious code samples last period to 80 percent this period.
"Cyber crime represents today's greatest threat to consumers' digital lifestyle and to online businesses in general," said Arthur Wong, vice president at Symantec Security Response and Managed Security Services division.
The report also detailed the growing trend of attackers using bot networks, targeted attacks on Web applications and Web browsers, and modular malicious code.
Based on this and data from previous reporting periods, the company said it expected to see more diverse and sophisticated threats used for cyber crime as well as an increase in the theft of confidential, financial, and personal information for financial gain.[an error occurred while processing this directive]