A report published by security firm Panda Security shows that the average lifespan of most malware is 24 hours or less.
This, the firm reckons, is because hackers and cybercriminals want their nasty pieces of work to go unnoticed by security firms and is a popular tactic used to overwhelm security firms.
Panda Security used a sample of 37,000 new viruses, worms, Trojans and other security scourges before reaching this conclusion. Most malware tend to be replaced by other new and potentially more lethal variants.
Making sure that the cybercriminals' creations remains undetected is, like in a real life viral outbreak, essential to achieve their goals. This explains why having up-to-date security applications is an essential prerequisite for anyone looking to go online.
In a rather sobering conclusion, Luis Corrons, the technical director of Pandalabs, said that "This is a never-ending race which, unfortunately, the hackers are still winning. We have to wait until we get hold of the malware they have created to be able to analyze, classify and combat it. In this race, vendors that work with traditional, manual analysis techniques are too slow to vaccinate clients, as the distribution and infection span is very short".
Panda found out that in the last seven months, the number of malware catalogued by Pandalabs has increased by a whopping 12 million to reach 30 million (that's equivalent to 45 new variants and viruses every MINUTE). From 1988 to 2008, the total number of malware was 18 million.