New malware variants are set to surpass 75 million by the end of the year, according to McAfee.
The company said in its quarterly threat report that the volume of new samples is surpassing its early estimates and forcing the company to raise its forecast.
Toralv Dirro, McAfee Labs EMEA security strategist, told V3 that the growth in new malware is largely due to the rise in crimeware toolkits. With criminals increasingly using automated tools to generate malware, the level of unique samples is climbing higher than ever.
"Most of it is a handful of Trojan kits," Dirro explained.
"There are not as many people trying to write that Trojan up from scratch."
Also helping to drive up malware levels is an increasing focus on mobile devices. The company found that malware writers are increasingly targeting Android handsets with premium number diallers and other infections.
Though Symbian phones are still the most common malware platform, the company said that Android tablets were by far the most popular target for new malware samples.
Dirro noted that while the prevalence of unofficial third-party application stores is helping to drive the growth of malware for Android, other services can also be vulnerable to attack.
To help prevent attack, Dirro recommended that users study reviews and ratings of their downloads and pay close attention to permission requests.
"Have a careful look at what rights an app needs," Dirro said.
"If you are downloading a Sudoku app and it is asking for rights to make a call, there is something wrong."
Criminals are also adopting new tactics to evade law enforcement agencies. Dirro said the recent increase in arrests and shutdowns of large botnets has driven operators to focus on smaller, localised networks.
By running smaller, regional botnets, criminals are more likely to avoid detection by researchers and stay off the radar of police, he said.
"The bigger the botnet is, the more interested law enforcement is in taking it down," Dirro explained.
"When they are smaller it is not that interesting anymore for law enforcement to go after them."
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