SECURITY THREATS facing Android devices increased by more than 1,200 per cent in the first quarter, says McAfee.
In its McAfee Threats Report: First Quarter 2012 released today, the security firm said it identified nearly 7,000 Android malware threats through the end of the first quarter compared with 600 Android malware samples collected in the fourth quarter of 2011.
McAfee Labs security strategist Toralv Dirro told The INQUIRER,
“Given the number of handsets sold each year Android’s become a very attractive target. A lack of market vetting and the ability to sell apps on unofficial markets means criminals will continue to target Android.”
McAfee said in its report that mobile malware in general “increased significantly” during quarter one 2012, with 8,000 total mobile malware samples collected, adding that financial profit was one of the main motivators.
Across all platforms, McAfee SVP Vincent Weafer said the firm had detected eight million new malware samples in the first quarter, “showing that malware authors are continuing their unrelenting development of new malware”.
The report found that the first quarter had the largest number of PC malware instances detected per quarter in the last four years, bringing the grand total to 83 million malware samples found, up from 75 million samples at the end of the last quarter of 2011.
McAfee said that the major contributors were strong increases in rootkits as well as password stealers, which reached approximately one million new samples.
McAfee’s findings revealed that malware facing Apple Mac devices was also on the rise and could reach the 100 million mark within the year.
“We’re expecting a boom in Mac malware, so far all we’ve seen is the tip of the Iceberg,” said Dirro. “It’ll take off when a cyber gang moves an asset stealing trojan like Zeus onto the platform. When that happens it’ll become a big problem.”
However, McAfee’s report said that despite the growth, cyber attacks against Macs are still significantly less prevalent than those against PCs, with only 250 new Mac malware samples and 150 new Mac fake anti-virus malware samples.
McAfee’s report also found that the majority of compromised machines used as proxies for spam, botnets, denial of service or other types of malicious activities were located in the United States.
“Based on data collected from the McAfee Global Threat Intelligence network, the United States was the primary source of SQL-injection attacks and cross-site scripting attacks, and also had the highest number of victims of both attacks,” it said. µ