Hackers are increasingly focusing on 'soft-target' home users, a new report has found.
Attackers are using a variety of techniques to escape detection and prolong their presence on systems in order to gain more time to steal information.
They are also hijacking the PC for marketing purposes, or to provide remote access or otherwise compromise confidential information for profit.
Home users are now the most targeted attack sector, accounting for 86 per cent of all targeted attacks, followed by financial services companies.
Symantec identified more attacks aimed at client-side applications, along with the increased use of evasive tactics to avoid detection.
The security firm pointed out that large, widespread internet worms have given way to smaller, more targeted attacks focusing on fraud, data theft and criminal activity.
"Attackers see end users as the weakest link in the security chain and are constantly targeting them in an effort to profit," said Arthur Wong, senior vice president of Symantec Security Response and Managed Services.
Symantec acknowledged that software vendors and enterprises have successfully adapted to the changing threat environment by implementing security best practices.
But attackers have begun to adopt new techniques such as aiming malicious code at client-side applications such as web browsers, email clients and other desktop applications.
Vulnerabilities affecting web applications accounted for 69 per cent of all vulnerabilities documented by Symantec in the first half of 2006.
Such flaws have also become increasingly prominent. Symantec documented 47 vulnerabilities in Mozilla's Firefox browser (compared to 17 in the last reporting period), 38 in Microsoft's Internet Explorer (compared to 25), and 12 in Apple's Safari (compared to six).
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