Panda Software said that in 2006, its PandaLabs team tracked a 62 percent increase in the amount of malicious code that used rootkit technology. The figure is on track to increase even more in 2007. Based on its current detection rates, the company forecasts a 40 percent increase over 2006 figures. Panda said that in January and February 2007, it had already detected 25 percent of the volume detected in 2006.

"Rootkit techniques are becoming increasingly popular among malware creators, particularly for spyware and banker Trojans," said Luis Corrons, technical director of PandaLabs.

The company's 2006 PandaLabs Annual Report shows that of all the new threats detected in 2006, a whopping 53.6 percent were Trojans, 14 percent were bots, and 13.6 percent were back doors. Overall, adware and spyware still remain the most prevalent form of malware detected among both new and old threats that are in circulation. Of all the threats detected by Panda in 2006, adware and spyware accounted for 38.9 percent.

In February 2007, PandaLabs detected a botnet that controlled 40,000 computers. The company monitored the botnet and saw the operator send out control commands that caused the 40,000 computers to download and install spamming software, adware, two rootkits, a worm, a program that steals passwords, and more. The adware displayed a large message alerting users that their systems were infected and advised them to buy a particular rogue antispyware package to remove the infection, after which the adware would cease alerting users, but didn't remove the infectious components.

The company's annual report is available online in PDF format. PandaLabs operates a blog in which the lab team muses about current events in the malware world.