Hackers infected computers, derailed websites, and plundered networks in a memorably miserable quarter, according to a report released Wednesday by Internet security firm PandaLabs.
Hacking groups Lulz Security and Anonymous caused “widespread mayhem” during the three months ending June 30, and malicious software “spread substantially,” according to the research unit of Spain-based Panda Security.
“This quarter has been one of the worst on record,” PandaLabs said in a quarterly security report.
“The number of attacks suffered by businesses and large organizations has set alarm bells ringing as systems and companies that until now were considered ‘hack-proof’ have fallen victim to cyber-crime,” the report continued.
Hacking victims have ranged from the International Monetary Fund and the US Defense Department to Sony, SEGA and Citigroup.
While computer networks were cracked for motivations apparently political, financial, or mischievous there was a significant spread of viruses to computers in homes around the world, according to PandaLabs.
Hackers can seize control of infected computers and use them to attack networks or websites.
Researchers determined that an average of 42 new strains of malicious software, referred to as “malware,” were created each minute during the recently-ended quarter.
A list of countries with the greatest infection rates was topped by China, where PandaLabs estimated that 61.33 percent of all computers were tainted with malware.
Thailand placed second with 56.67 percent and Taiwan third with 52.92 percent, according to PandaLabs.
The United States and much of Europe was ranked near the global average of 39.79 percent.