The growing adoption of instant messaging (IM) platforms in corporate environments has made the technology more attractive to hackers, who have, in turn, attacked IM 200 per cent more often than this time last year.

Researchers at Akonix’s IM Security Centre reported today that they’ve seen 31 new malicious code attacks on messaging platforms this month, including worms such as IMspam, QQpass and TrigXF.

Of all IM-based malware, Maniccum and Hotmatom were the most common, according to Akonix.

Attacks on peer-to-peer (p2p) networks also increased by nearly a third (32 per cent) since last month, with 25 new attacks in March.

Last week, researchers at Websense discovered a variant of the Stration worm using the Skype messaging network. That malware sends infected PCs a message asking them to click on a hyperlink, which directs them to a malicious file downloader.

Don Montgomery, vice president of marketing at Akonix, told today that every month this year has seen a marked increase in IM attacks over the year before.

"The first three months of the year have all been up from the first three months of last year, so this is more the routine than an anomaly," he said.

Montgomery added that MSN Messenger is the most attacked platform his firm has seen.

"MSN seems to be the most targeted. I think there’s a continuing anti-Microsoft movement in the underground, and I think the anti-Microsoft sentiment has gone on for many years," he said.