Researchers at global cybersecurity firm McAfee saw an average of 480 new threats per minute and an increase of 73 per cent in malware targeting IoT (Internet of Things) devices.
Cybercriminals have taken notice of the growing volume and lax security of many IoT devices and have begun to focus on them, said the report, according to the "McAfee Labs Threats Report: December 2018" on Wednesday.
The financial sector saw a 20 per cent increase in data breaches, showed the findings.
"Cybercriminals are eager to weaponise vulnerabilities both new and old, and the number of services now available on underground markets has dramatically increased their effectiveness," Christiaan Beek, lead scientist at McAfee, said in a statement.
"As long as ransoms are paid and relatively easy attacks, such as phishing campaigns, are successful, bad actors will continue to use these techniques. Following up-and-coming trends on the underground markets and hidden forums allow the cybersecurity community to defend against current attacks and stay a step ahead of those in our future," Beek said.
While unique ransomware families continued to decline in the third quarter of this year, new ransomware increased 10 per cent in this period, the research showed. The quarter also saw an over 70 per cent increase in crypto mining malware.
The researchers found that 53 per cent of spam botnet traffic in the third quarter was driven by Gamut, the top spam-producing botnet spewing "sextortion" scams, which demand payment and threaten to reveal victim browsing habits.
Some entrepreneurial cybercriminals have shifted away from using larger markets to sell their goods and have begun creating their own specialised shops, said the report. This shift has sparked a new line of business for website designers offering to build hidden marketplaces for aspiring shady business owners, it added.
(With inputs from agencies.)