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Report: As stock market drops malware rises

PandaLabs statistics show how cybercriminals are taking aim at confused consumers in a time of economic uncertainty.

Elinor Mills Former Staff Writer
Elinor Mills covers Internet security and privacy. She joined CNET News in 2005 after working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters in Portugal and writing for The Industry Standard, the IDG News Service and the Associated Press.
Elinor Mills

Here's more evidence of a connection between the economic crisis and cybercrime. PandaLabs reported on Wednesday about a direct correlation between the recent stock market declines and increases in targeted cyberattacks.

For instance, while the U.S. stock market saw declines between September 1 and October 9, the volume of malware threats grew, doubling to more than 24,000 per day between September 8 and September 10 alone and to more than 30,000 per day on September 16.

The recent malware spikes could be due to the fact that cybercriminals now have fewer possible targets with the consolidation in the banking industry, and the perception of instability in the financial community could be causing panic even within the cyberunderground, PandaLabs said.

"Cybercriminals have to increase their activity to reach more users with campaigns designed to put money directly into their pockets, especially during times of economic instability," Ryan Sherstobitoff, chief corporate evangelist for Panda Security, said in a statement. "For example, we have seen a surge in the number of fake antivirus software scams that trick unsuspecting consumers into making an online transaction, instead of criminals relying heavily on phishing the credentials for banks."

Such fake antivirus scams generate an estimated $14 million in profit each month for criminals, he said.

MessageLabs reported earlier this week about statistics showing that banking-related phishing scams have risen.

Stock market evolutions (September 1 to October 9) moneycentral.msn.com

Threat evolutions with key highlights (September 1 to October 9) PandaLabs