Australians are most at risk from malicious online attacks targeting their credit card details, followed by bank and email account information, reveals Symantec's bi-annual Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR), released on Tuesday.
With the amount of sensitive data they may contain, email passwords are now selling for as much as bank account information, at anywhere up to and above 300 dollars, claims Paul Crighton, director of enterprise sales at Symantec.
He says that consumers are at the highest risk for malicious attacks online.
"Nine per cent of Australians have been victims of identity theft, 17 per cent know someone who has been targeted, and 45 per cent believe identity related theft will occur from online transactions."
He says 93 per cent of all (global) attacks are on consumers.
"Essentially what the attackers are doing is going after consumers by drawing them to trusted Web sites, social networking sites, blogs, mash-ups and wikis etc," he said.
"It used to be porn and gambling sites that were dangerous, now that has changed - it's the trusted Web sites that are being targeted. "It's been a big increase, far faster than we thought six months ago," said Crighton.
For the first time since its debut in January 2002, Symantec's report has included Australia-specific information.
The ISTR, consisting over 40,000 sensors monitoring network activity in over 180 countries, provides analysis of Internet threat activity over a six month period.
The report covers attacks such as theft of identity and/or private information, vulnerabilities, malicious code, Phishing, spam, security risks, as well as a section predicting future trends.
The report found that malicious code had increased globally by 185 per cent since the last ISTR was published in March.
It warns that those responsible for malicious attacks are becoming increasingly professional and commercial, thanks to tool kits that aid attackers, and the growth of a very lucrative black market in stolen information.