Spyware attacks increased threefold in December as Christmas online spending jumped 50 per cent over last year, according to the PC Tools Malware Research Center.
"We saw a major increase in cyber-crime in 2006," said Michael Greene, vice president for product strategy at PC Tools.
"It was pretty much as expected, but there were major surges in phishing activity, key-logging and direct attempts to steal private information from users.
"This year's cyber-attacks will be even more sophisticated with legitimate sites targeted. Users will be hijacked to bogus sites in attempts to steal information and money."
PC Tools is unveiling several new products including free antivirus and anti-spyware to help consumers combat these threats.
Electronic retail body Interactive Media in Retail Group reported that online sales over the 10 weeks to 24 December soared by 50 per cent year on year to £7.5bn.
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