Roughly half of all new malware dies off within the first day of its deployment, according to security experts.
Researchers at PandaLabs found that of the 37,000 new malware samples the company collects each day, only 48 per cent are still active and targeting users after 24 hours.
The reason behind the high turnover is to avoid detection, according to PandaLabs. The company said that many malware samples are frequently modified and redeployed so that security software cannot detect and remove the code from infected machines.
Luis Corrons, technical director at PandaLabs, said: "This is a never-ending race which, unfortunately, the hackers are still winning.
"We have to wait until we get hold of the malware they have created to be able to analyse, classify and combat it. In this race, vendors that work with traditional, manual analysis techniques are too slow to vaccinate clients, because the distribution and infection span is very short."
The company also noted that the high turnover rate could also explain the explosion in new malware detections over recent years.
Panda said that security researchers have catalogued 10 million new samples over the past 18 months. By comparison, the total malware volume between 1990 and 2008 was said to be about 20 million.
The explosive growth in malware has also prompted vendors to change their practices. Many vendors have begun to complement signature-based detection with behaviour-based "heuristics" tactics. Companies have also started looking to cloud computing and web services to provide more consistent updates.
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