By DAN GOODIN AP Technology Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- As more people turn to Web applications for everyday tasks like e-mail, friendship and payments, cyber criminals are following them in search of bank account details and other valuable data, security researchers said.
Users of Yahoo Inc.'s e-mail service, Google Inc.'s Orkut social networking site and eBay Inc.'s PayPal online payment service were among the targets of attacks in recent weeks. All three companies have acknowledged and plugged the security holes.
The attacks come as Microsoft Corp., whose Windows operating system runs about 90 percent of the world's computers, has plugged many of the most easily exploited holes in its e-mail program, browser and other products following dozens of embarrassing breaches over the past several years.
They also come amid the growing popularity of online communities such as MySpace.com and of Web-based calendar, messaging and other services offered by Google, Yahoo and others.
As larger audiences flock to Web sites that run on ever more powerful programming scripts, malware writers are finding them fertile ground.