Cyber criminals continued to form “pseudo corporations” and hired people to compromise high-traffic, trusted websites last year, resulting in threats growing dramatically on the Internet in 2008, says a report from Symantec Inc.

The threats primarily targeted the confidential information of computer users, such as credit card information.

The number of advertisements for illegal credit card information in the underground online economy increased 32 per cent from 21 per cent in 2007, Symantec spokesman Marc Fossi said yesterday.

“Business is booming for them,” Fossi said of the digital thieves.

Cyber criminals have organized groups and the increased activity is related to the fact that people are paid to write malicious code,?Fossi said.

The cyber crime organizations can have different “business units,” he said, adding some people are hired to create spam email, others to write malicious computer code and yet others to create phishing web pages to steal personal information.