By Max Clarke

286 million new threats to computer security were identified last year in Symantec’s 16th Internet Security Report.

Pivotal in this increase was a 93% increase in web attacks, driven in part by the proliferation of URL shorteners for social networking sites like Twitter.

Threats ranged from invasions to privacy to targeted attacks on sovereign states like the Stuxnet worm’s targeting of Iranian infrastructure.

Mirroring its continued popularity, malware attacks have increasingly targeted social networking sites. Shortened URLs are a major source- accounting for 65% of malware attacks in 2010- with tweets sent out urging users to click on links leading to corrupted sites or ‘phishing’ schemes.

Mobile technology poses a concern for security, Symantec predict. While 2010 saw limited attacks on mobile systems, there were reports of ‘trojan horse’ type attacks posing as legitimate apps. But the increasing use of smartphones is likely to lead to more attackers focusing on handheld devices operating especially on the Android platform.

Stuxnet and Hydraq, two of the most visible cyber-events of 2010, represented true incidents of cyberwarfare and have fundamentally changed the threat landscape,” said Stephen Trilling, senior vice president, Symantec Security Technology and Response. “The nature of the threats has expanded from targeting individual bank accounts to targeting the information and physical infrastructure of nation states.”