Cyber attackers are moving from using email spam to more aggressively targeting the Internet, according to the annual report from security firm Barracuda Networks.
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Email spam dropped by half during 2010, while search engine malware increased 55% and the Twitter Crime Rate increased 20%, the report says.
One in five search topics lead to malware, while one in 1,000 search results lead to malware, researchers found.
On Twitter, researchers found attackers are distributing malware and exploiting vulnerabilities to achieve their malicious goals.
This indicates a concentrated focus on the more lucrative social networks and search engines as attack vectors, says Barracuda.
"Attackers focus on where they can get the most eyeballs and profit, and today that means social networks and search engines," according to Paul Judge, chief research officer at Barracuda.
"We often point to the need for user education as the missing component, but the levels of social engineering involved in today's attacks suggest that we must continue to elevate our technological approaches," he says.
Judge believes the research community must continue to build innovative defences and the industry must make efforts to increase the deployment rates of those defences.
To help combat this trend, Barracuda has announced a free tool to protect social networking users against malicious threats on Facebook and Twitter.
The tool analyses user-generated content posted to profiles and is able to block or remove malicious or suspicious content, claims Barracuda.