A recent report by PandaLabs showed that banker Trojans accounted for the majority of new malware in the first quarter. These viruses allow a computer hacker to access the bank's information and perform various operations remotely, and can be severely damaging to customers' finances. This virus comprised 61 percent of cases experienced during those three months. The second most common type of malware was the traditional virus.
"The growing prevalence of banker Trojans signals to us that online accounts for both consumers and businesses continue to be increasingly attractive financial targets for cybercriminals," said Sean-Paul Correll, threat researcher at PandaLabs. "In addition, the widespread availability of DIY kits online has spurred new, less technical individuals into the cybercrime business as evidenced by the Mariposa case."
The Mariposa botnet was one of the largest of its kind and compromised almost 13 million computers in more than 190 countries, according to PandaLabs. The anti-malware laboratory responded by bringing various security groups together in the Mariposa Working Group collaborative and eventually helped to render the virus inactive.
Use of traditional viruses can also draw anti-virus laboratories' attention away from seemingly more harmful infections, according to Correll.
While consumers may not be able to protect their financial institutions' computer systems, they may take measures to protect their own technology from being infected. Installing the most recent anti-virus software will allow them to detect and remove threats from their computers as soon as possible. They should also avoid any emails or downloads that do not come from a trusted source, and make sure that any websites have a lock symbol before inputting their financial information.
New software released by security vendor Trusteer increases communication between consumers and their financial institutions about threats, according to a recent report by PCWorld. The Flashlight service will give banks the power to remotely detect whether a customer's computer has been infected, and deduce which kind of malware is involved.
"If they find a new piece of malware they haven't seen before on their customer's computer, this malware comes to us, we reverse engineer it and find out about its capabilities," Boodaei said.
Cybercriminals target their victims by adding malware to the websites they visit the most. This can include celebrity searches or social networking websites, like Facebook.