Although there were 24-million new strains of viruses identified during 2012, a handful stood out above the rest.

This is according to PandaLabs, which has published its Virus Yearbook for 2012, and named the following as some of 2012’s “outstanding” viruses:

* Hands up! You’re surrounded – this could be the battle cry of the Police virus, the malware that has caused most headaches for users and IT departments alike during 2012. This virus purports to show a message from the police telling users that their computer has been blocked – which it has – because they have supposedly downloaded illegal material. To recover their systems, users are asked to pay a fine. The most recent versions even show images taken with the user’s Webcam, making the scam all the more realistic.

* 007 – the outstanding spyware of the year must surely be Flame, a close relative of Stuxnet. This is one of the most powerful cyberwar tools created so far, and infections have been focused primarily in the Middle East.

* The alternative – also, an honorary mention for Flashback, a bot that breaks away from the norm of infecting Windows and targets Apple systems, attacking thousands of Mac computers around the world. Since it appeared, Mac users are no longer quite as relaxed about security as they once were.

* The Father of the Gods – this refers to Zeus, a Trojan that steals information from users of online banking services. This family of malware, though known for some time, continues to spread.
During 2012 new variants were detected which, in addition to infecting computers, compromise security on smartphones (Android, Blackberry, Symbian), targeting those banks that send information via cell phone to customers as an additional security measure.

* Pinocchio – its nose may not grow, yet Koobface is the most mendacious malware of the year, as it spent the whole of 2012 spreading endless lies on social networks in order to infect users. In one attack it related a spurious story about President Obama having punched someone following a racial insult. So beware of sensational stories on social media –  this is a favourite trick of cybercrooks.

* The miner – BlackHole Exploit kit has been one of the most popular kits for creating malware over the last year. It exploits numerous security holes to install and uses all types of exploits, particularly Java and Adobe.

* The copycat – what is the secret of success? Copying others who have achieved it. And this is precisely what DarkAngle does, a fake antivirus that poses as Panda Cloud Antivirus. This way it takes advantage of the renown of Panda Security’s free cloud antivirus to infect as many computers as possible.

* The one… bot – as if dreamt up by Tolkien, Ainslot.L was designed to rule over all others. When it infects, the Ainslot.L bot scans computers and removes any other bots it finds. A case of unfair competition for sure.

* You have an e-mail – and it’s not from Meg Ryan or Tom Hanks; it’s Kuluoz, a worm that refers to things supposedly bought only and then infects computers. The worm arrives in an e-mail that looks as though it has been sent from FedEx, and tells users they have a parcel to collect.