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India is the world's third largest hotspot of malicious activity, according to Symantec's Internet Security Threat report.
The top Web-based attack in 2009 was associated with malicious PDF activity, which accounted for 49 percent of the total attacks.
The education sector accounted for 20 percent of data breaches that could lead to identity theft during this period, more than any other sector; this is a decrease from 27 percent in 2008, when it was also the highest ranked sector for data breaches.
Symantec observed an average of 46,541 active bot-infected computers per day in 2009; this is a 38 percent decrease from the 75,158 per day average observed in 2008. The report pointed out that 'bot' or 'robot software' is being highly preferred in cyber attacks.
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The United States topped in overall malicious activity measured by Symantec, with 19 percent of the total in 2009. This is a drop from 23 per cent in 2008.
The United States was the country of the most bot-infected computers observed by Symantec in 2009, accounting for 11 per cent of the global total, a slight decrease from 12 percent in 2008.
It also topped as the No.1 country of origin for Web-based attacks in 2009, accounting for 34 per cent of the worldwide total.
China is ranked second in the list in terms of bots and origin of most attacks.
It is ranked sixth in terms of phishing hosts and eighth in terms of spam zombies. China was at the same position last year also.
Brazil became more prominent in all of the specific category measurements in 2009 except for spam zombies, where it was already the top-ranked country.
Brazil's significant increases across all categories are related to the growing Internet infrastructure and broadband usage there.
The growing level of malicious code activity affecting Brazil has also resulted in the proposal of a new cybercrime bill in the country. The initiative may also be a result of a number high-profile cyber attacks there in recent years.
One of the attacks resulted in a massive power grid blackout, while another resulted in the exposure of valuable data and a $350,000 ransom request after a government website was compromised. The latter case resulted in over 3,000 employees being unable to access the site for 24 hours.
Germany ranks second in terms of phishing hosts and third in terms of origin of attacks. In terms of spam zombies, it is ranked 7th and is second in hosting phishing.
India saw a surge in malicious activity in 2009, moving from 11th for overall malicious activity in 2008 to fifth in this period. In 2009, India also accounted for 15 percent of all malicious activity in the Asia-Pacific/Japan (APJ) region, an increase from 10 per cent in 2008.
For specific categories of measurement in the APJ region, India increased rank in malicious code, spam zombies and phishing hosts from 2008. Its high ranking in spam zombies also contributed to India being the third highest country of spam origin globally.
Malicious activity tends to increase in countries experiencing rapid growth in broadband infrastructure and connectivity, and the level of malicious activity occurring in India has been increasing steadily over several reporting periods as its broadband infrastructure and user base grows.
The United Kingdom has seen a drop in malicious activity. It is ranked 4th in terms of malicious code, origin of attacks and 7th in phishing hosts.
Russia which was at 12th place last year has surged to the 7th position. The country is ranked second in terms of spam zombies, fifth in phishing hosts and tenth in terms of origin of attacks.
Poland has seen a rise in malicious activity. It ranked at No.8, two places higher than last year. The country is ranked fourth in spam zombies, eighth in phishing hosts and bots.
Italy has seen a drop in malicious activity. It is now at ninth place from seventh position in 2008. The country is ranked ninth for spam zombies, sixth for bots and eighth in terms of origin of attacks.
Spain has also seen a fall in malicious activity. It has fallen to 10th place from sixth last year. It ranks at the 11th position for spam zombies and phishing hosts, seventh for bots and ninth in terms of origin of attacks.
In 2009, 60 percent of identities exposed were compromised by hacking attacks, which are another form of targeted attack. The majority of these were the result of a successful hacking attack on a single credit card payment processor.