Cyber criminals have been able to take control of ten per cent of the world's computers from compromised web pages.

A report released this week by AVG revealed that tools are becoming much more accessible, with a network of 1.2 million malware-infected computers discovered to be controlled by the Eleonore exploit toolkit.

It said that there was a considerable spike in activity of the use of this toolkit. However due to vulnerabilities in the malicious code, AVG was able to collect statistics that allowed it to gain a better understanding of the magnitude of such attacks and the average success rate in infecting PCs by these toolkits.

The highest number of infections were in Russia with 916,430, then much lower in the Ukraine ((62,722) and the United States (50,501). Vulnerabilities in Sun JVM and Adobe Acrobat Reader each accounted for 36 per cent of vulnerabilities. Internet Explorer 6 vulnerabilities accounted for 22 per cent of infections, while vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer 7 accounted for only five per cent.

Roger Thompson, chief research officer at AVG, said: “It is of no surprise to find out that cyber gangs are becoming far more sophisticated and ruthless in their pursuit of making money from their criminal activities, but what our recent research shows is that some of the tools to help them do this have become much more accessible.”

Mel Morris, CEO at Prevx, said: “The report from AVG is another stark warning to internet users that cyber crime is a massive threat. Although the majority of consumers have some form of security on their PC, the sheer number of successful attacks being carried out tells us that there are some big gaps in our defences.

“More and more people are using the internet in their day-to-day lives - from internet banking to email and social media - all of which involve using PINs, passwords and many other forms of private information. As we share this data, we need to be absolutely sure that it is safe and is not being downloaded or viewed by cyber criminals.

“It's about ensuring consumers are aware of the threat, then ensuring they have the necessary layers of protection. PC security products must make it harder for malicious software to steal information entered or displayed while the user is surfing, socialising and transacting on the web. It is a gaping hole in almost all PC security offerings that is widely exploited by the vast majority of banking and information stealing Trojans, and the root cause behind most internet fraud.

“What this report really does is show that things undoubtedly need to change - consumers, business and the security vendors themselves must ensure that we are covering all bases in the war against cyber crime. If we fail to act now, criminals will continue to reap the rewards while the industry merely bites at their heels,” Morris said.