AV-Test.org’s malware count exceeds 22 million

The folks at the independent anti-virus testing body AV-Test.org have been in touch with some interesting statistics.

They are finding more than one million unique malware samples a month, and presently the total amount of unique samples in their malware collection exceeds 22 million.

That will probably seem pretty jaw-dropping to some of you, especially when you consider that that’s almost double what it was a year ago.

AV-Test.org chart

Of course, the vast majority of this collection are minor variants of existing malware. Hackers have effectively created a “conveyor belt of crime”, churning out new versions of their malicious software in the hope that it will slip past anti-virus defences.

Whereas in the past, virus writers could spend months honing their malware with the aim that no security product would be able to detect it, today’s financially-motivated cybercriminal doesn’t really care if some solutions can intercept it proactively with behavioral genotype technology and advanced heuristics.

That’s because they aren’t writing the malware to show off, they’re creating it to make money. And they know that there are enough computer users out there with weak computer defences who will be simple to ensnare.

We revealed in the Sophos Security Threat Report Update earlier this week that SophosLabs analyses something like 40,000 suspicious samples every single day. This problem of “glut” has meant that we have invested heavily in automated analysis of suspected malware – a technology which dramatically reduces the burden on the experts in our lab. So you see, don’t get too depressed – computers can be used for good as well as bad. 🙂