Online banking malware doubled in Australia last year as cyber criminals increased their efforts to fleece users for financial gain, according to a new report by Trend Micro.

The report Cashing in on Digital Information found that online banking malware numbers increased from 5834 in the first quarter of 2013 to 12,062 by December 2013.

It also found that online banking malware volumes in New Zealand increased from 428 to 1184 during 2013.

The number of botnet command and control servers targeting Australian users rose from 361 to 597, an increase of 65 per cent.

In addition, Trend Micro researchers noted that sophisticated ransomware such as Cryptolocker emerged during 2013.

Cryptolocker infects systems and encrypts files. It is spread via malicious links in spam emails which lead to pages that exploit system vulnerabilities. Affected users are asked to pay the cyber criminal with a ransom in order to unlock the system and get the files decrypted.

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Commenting on the report, Sanjay Mehta, Trend Micro Australia and New Zealand managing director, said that companies and consumers alike must be "diligent" about protecting personal data and guarding against compromised privacy.

"While this report details the threat landscape of 2013, more importantly, it explains how these threats will continue to evolve and what should be done to mitigate the negative impact," he said in a statement.

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