Over half of all malware originating in China last month was designed to steal usernames and passwords, new analysis shows.
The malicious code was created to give cyber criminals easier access to personal and sensitive data. The research also found that 45 per cent of Chinese malware in October - written in a simplified version of Chinese - was intended to steal online gaming login details. Moreover, 8 per cent of the malicious code aimed to give hackers the username and password information for the Chinese QQ instant messaging system.
According to Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at Sophos, this should act as a warning to computer users to regularly change passwords and use different passwords for separate sites.
"Given the ever growing popularity of online gaming in China, this is a worrying trend - once hackers have stolen login details, they can effectively impersonate the victim in the online world," she said.
"Millions of people play these games every day, but once inside the game, it's difficult to check their identity and these cyber criminals can wreak havoc, for example buying and selling items in online stores and running up huge debts without the victim even realising," she continued.
Theriault added that while cyber criminals hacking into an instant messaging system may not appear to be a major concern, users should be worried.
"The danger is that the cyber criminals will have inadvertently gained access to bank accounts, or cracked the passwords to secure password protected information," she said.