The findings follow the trend of increasingly prevalent malware statistics of previous years. The security firm’s quarterly report also found that trojans continue to dominate the threat landscape, representing nearly three out of every four new malware samples in circulation.
In fact, Trojans set a new record, causing nearly 80% of all computer infections worldwide.
“Trojans are cyber-crooks’ weapon of choice, which explains why they account for most new specimens in circulation and infections triggered in the first quarter of the year,” explained Luis Corrons, technical director of PandaLabs, in a statement.
The firm said that despite their inability to replicate, trojans have become capable of triggering massive infections through compromised websites that exploit vulnerabilities in browser plug-ins like Java, Adobe Reader, etc. This attack method allows hackers to infect thousands of computers in just a few minutes with the same trojan or different ones, as attackers have the ability to change the trojan they use based on multiple parameters, such as the victim’s location, the operating system used and so on.
The average number of infected PCs across the globe stands at 31.13%. The countries leading the list of most infections are China (the only nation with more than 50% of computers infected), followed by Ecuador (41.01% of infected PCs) and Turkey (40.38%).
The top 10 list of malware-infected countries is completed with Argentina (37.77%), Peru (37.43%), Taiwan (36.48%), Russia (36.21%), Poland (33.79%), Spain (33.58%) and Brazil (33.45%). These are joined by another four countries with above-average infection rates: Chile (33.37%), Colombia (32.01%), Italy (31.97%) and Venezuela (31.45%).
The list of least infected countries is dominated by European nations. The country with the fewest infections is Finland (17% of infected PCs), followed by Sweden (20%) and Switzerland (20.99%).
The other countries with the lowest infection rates are: the UK (21.89%), Norway (22.57%), Japan (22.82%), Germany (22.94%), Belgium (23.89%), the Netherlands (23.92%) and Australia (24.32%).
Then, finally, there are the Goldilocks countries – those which did not make the top 10 list for the lowest rate of infection, but which had a malware infection rate below the worldwide average: Canada (24.89%), Denmark (25.72%), Portugal (26.91%), Costa Rica (27.22%), France (27.43%), the US (27.79%), Mexico (29.91%) and Hungary (30.69%).
The trends echo what Panda tracked last year. In its annual report for 2012, the firm found that 74,000 new strains of malware were created every day; and one-in-three scanned computers are infected
by one or more of the 125 million pieces of malware known to the company. Last year, the most infected country was still China, where 54.89% of computers contained malware. The UK was the fourth least-infected country with around 22% of computers infected, while the US had a 30.52% infection rate.