Cyber attacks on social networking and mobile devices have massively increased in volume and sophistication.
The company's recent Internet Security Threat Report revealed a massive threat volume of more than 286 million new threats last year, as well as several new megatrends in the threat landscape.
This includes an increase in target attacks on enterprises, the continued growth of social networking sites as an attack distribution platform, and a change in attackers’ infection tactics.
Cyber hackers are increasingly targeting vulnerabilities in Java to break into traditional computer systems, as well as focusing on attacking mobile devices.
Targeted attacks such as Hydraq and Stuxnet last year posed a growing threat to enterprises, with many attacks using zero-day vulnerabilities to break into computer systems undetected to steal intellectual property or cause physical damage.
In many cases, the attackers had researched key victims within each corporation and then used tailored social engineering attacks to gain entry into the victims’ networks - with many succeeding despite basic security measures.
The Symantec report found that data breaches caused by hacking resulted in an average of more than 260,000 identities exposed per breach in 2010, nearly quadruple that of any other cause.
“Stuxnet and Hydraq, two of the most visible cyber-events of 2010, represented true incidents of cyberwarfare and have fundamentally changed the threat landscape,” said Stephen Trilling, senior vice president of Symantec Security Technology and Response.
“The nature of the threats has expanded from targeting individual bank accounts to targeting the information and physical infrastructure of nation states.”
Symantec also found that cyber attackers used shortened URLs attackers on social networking sites to trick victims into both phishing and malware attacks, dramatically increasing the rate of successful infection.
Attack toolkits like the Phoenix toolkit targeted Java vulnerabilities last year, accounting for 17 per cent of of all vulnerablities affecting browser plug-ins.
Major mobile platforms were also targeted by attackers, with most malware attacks taking the form of Trojan Horse programs posing as legitimate applications.
Here's more on Symantec's Internet Security Threat Report