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Cybercriminals Making Computer Malware at a Record Rate: Researchers

Last year was a particularly bad year for hacks and computer intrusions, and it looks like 2016 will only get worse, Panda Security says.

The Spain-based Internet security company said its lab researchers detected and disabled more than 84 million new samples of malware in 2015 — 9 million more than the previous year. The figure means cybercriminals were churning out new malware samples at a rate of more than 230,000 a day throughout 2015.

In fact, more than a quarter (27 percent) of all malware samples ever recorded were produced in 2015, Panda Security said in a news release.

"We predict that the amount of malware created by cybercriminals will continue to grow," said Luis Corrons, technical director of PandaLabs. "We also can't forget that the creation of millions of Trojans and other threats corresponds to the cybercriminals' needs to infect as many users as possible in order to get more money."

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Malware is any type of software that is designed to gain access to and damage or disable a computer.

Trojans, a type of malware disguised as legitimate software, accounted for more than half the malware detected in 2015, according to Panda Security.

China topped the list of countries with the highest rate of infected computers, followed by Taiwan and Turkey. At the other end of the spectrum, nine of the top 10 countries with the lowest rates of infection were in Europe, led by Finland, Norway and Sweden. The U.S registered an infection rate below the global average.