Report: Hackers Making Contracts for Spam

Thieves selling their code to middlemen who spread phishing and pharming attacks

Another widely available toolkit in early 2007 - called MPack - sold online for $1,000 and allowed users to launch attacks in Web browsers against people who surf on malicious or compromised sites. In some cases it appeared to come with a support pack from its authors, Symantec said.

"The reliability and robustness of MPack implies that it benefited from professional development," researchers wrote.

Other researchers discovered more hopeful signs.

According to a report expected Monday from IBM Corp.'s Internet Security Systems X-Force researchers, the number of computer vulnerabilities either publicly disclosed by companies or discovered by threat researchers declined during the first half of the year.

IBM tallied 3,273 vulnerabilities - down 3.3 percent from the first half of last year. IBM said it was the first time the vulnerability numbers fell during the first half of the year since X-Force began cataloging them in 1997, when there were 106 known vulnerabilities.

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