Hackers were responsible for creating 1.6 million new security threats last year, says Symantec.

According to the security vendor's Internet Security Threat Report, the web was the primary source of infection, with hackers relying on methods to embed malicious code into websites.

"As malicious code continues to grow at a record pace we're also seeing that attackers have shifted away from mass distribution of a few threats to micro-distribution of millions of distinct threats," said Stephen Trilling, vice president at Symantec Security Technology and Response.

The report also revealed that 90 percent of attacks were designed to steal personal information such as names, addresses and credit card details.

"The unfortunate reality is that innocent web surfers can visit a compromised website and unknowingly place their personal and financial information at risk," added Marc Fossi, executive editor of the report.

"Computer users have to be extra vigilant about their security practices."

Symantec said that phishing websites had increased by 66 percent since 2007, with 55,389 found on the web. Spam also increased by 192 percent.

Symantec said that 349 billion spam messages were received in 2008, compared to the 119 billion in 2007. The security vendor blamed botnets, saying were responsible for 90 percent of the spam received.