MONTREAL - A new report on threats to the Internet says cyber thieves were thriving in 2008, setting a record pace targeting the confidential information of computer users to sell on the online underground economy.

The Symantec Internet Security Threat Report says Web surfing remained the primary source for new computer infections last year.

California-based Symantec produces the widely used Norton Antivirus software and annually surveys global cybercrime.

Symantec said it blocked an average of 245 million potential infections every month in 2008.

Symantec's Marc Fossi, executive editor of the threat report, says digital thieves are organized, forming what he calls "pseudo corporations" and hiring employees to create such things as spam email and malicious code.

Despite the weak global economy, Fossi says illegal activity on the Internet is a recession-proof industry.

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