Banking Malware Infections On the Rise, Study Shows

Dennis Faas's picture

The number of malware infections targeting banking information has reached its highest level in more than a decade. A new report finds that there were more than 200,000 of these kinds of infections between July and September 2013.

The report, which is called the Q3 2013 Security Roundup and comes from security firm Trend Micro, says that this three-month infection rate is the highest seen since 2002.

U.S. Bears Brunt of Malware Attacks

It's important to note that the infections are not uniformly distributed around the world. The United States, which comprised 23 per cent of new infections, faced the most attacks. Brazil and Japan accounted for 16 and 12 per cent of infections.

India, Australia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Mexico, France, and Germany also reportedly faced a tidal wave of malware attacks. (Source:

Trend Micro's report says that many of these attacks were carried out by hackers employing the ZeuS (or 'Zbot') malware. This kind of malicious software, which first emerged more than seven years ago, can be placed on websites and then used to attack vulnerable visitors.

However, many malware infections were also spread by spam emails. Trend Micro says spammers often use popular web-based email services like Yahoo! Mail and Gmail to increase ZeuS infections.

A successful installation of the ZeuS malware can allow hackers to steal very sensitive personal information, from banking data to credit card details.

In many cases, collecting this information is as simple as convincing a Gmail or Yahoo! Mail user to click on a link in an email that looks legitimate.

Increased Online Shopping Responsible for Infection Hike

Trend Micro suggests that the increase in malware infections has a lot to do with consumers' increased use of online retailers. As more and more consumers become comfortable using the Internet to do their shopping, the threat posed by cybercriminals grows.

Trend Micro's report also found that the number of phishing threats targeting mobile users is rising. Total data gathered in this way (between January and September 2013) shot up 53 per cent since last year. (Source:

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