NEW YORK (
) -- Social network platforms and mobile devices are increasingly being targeted for malware attacks, according to a new survey by security software company
The report found 286 million different types of malware that were responsible for more than 3 billion total attacks in 2010 on computer users.
Social networking sites were highlighted in particular as an area that is vulnerable to threats, as attackers use profile information available on these sites to launch targeted attacks.
Attackers are also posting links to malicious Web sites via shortened URLs -- where the destination of the link is hidden to viewers -- on social networking profiles and news feeds, where they can then be spread to victims quickly.
During a three month period in 2010, 65% of malicious links in news feeds used shortened URLs.
Mobile threats are also growing, the report found. As the number of smartphones and tablets grows dramatically and users become more comfortable with downloading third-party applications, the chances of installing malware applications has increased.
New mobile operating system vulnerabilities increased to 163 in 2010 from 115 in the previous year, said Symantec.
The most malicious codes for mobile devices are called Trojans, which pose as legitimate applications in mobile app marketplaces.
The survey comes after
announced last month that it had removed several malicious applications from its Android Marketplace, and remotely deleted these programs from users' phones.
Besides the threat of malware, mobile application publishers are also dealing with issues related to the privacy of user's data.
Music streaming company
said Monday that it had recently received a subpoena related to a federal grand jury investigation regarding information sharing practices by smartphone applications. Pandora also said it wasn't targeted alone; the company believes that several other firms that make smartphone applications received similar subpoenas.
--Written by Olivia Oran in New York.
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