Malware is increasing, and now targeting Mac and Android mobile users

The recently published edition of McAfee Threats Report: First Quarter 2012 indicates there is now a malware increase on the PC, Mac and mobile devices.

There was an increase in Q1 botnet growth, as McAfee reported almost 5 million injections during the worst spell.  On a bright side, global spam numbers dropped a slight amount, as just over 1 trillion spam messages were recorded at the end of Q1.

"In the first quarter of 2012, we have already detected eight million new malware samples, showing that malware authors are continuing their unrelenting development," McAfee noted regarding the number of malware problems.  "The same skills and techniques that were sharpened on the PC platform are increasingly being extended to other platforms, such as mobile and Mac."

The Q1 number generated by McAfee is a four-year high threat from malware, and could reach 100 million samples by the end of 2012.

PC malware definitely isn't new, but the advancing attack on mobile devices could have major implications for consumers.  Due to the popularity of Apple's iPhone and Google Android-powered devices, criminals will continue to show an interest in these products.    

In addition to smartphones, Android has become increasingly popular on tablet devices -- and users aren't familiar with direct handling of malware on their mobile gadgets.  McAfee saw an increase from 600 Android malware samples in 2011, with that number increasing to nearly 7,000 threats in 2012.

The Google apps store isn't responsible for distributing these apps, while Android infections are shared by third-party vendors.

The SpyEye and Zeus SDKs are two of the leading choices among criminals trying to develop spyware, but there is new effort to find viable alternatives.  Criminals are now finding new SDKs on the black market, and development continues to develop even newer technologies.

Much of the mobile malware that is sent now causes a hijacked phone to text premium SMS services unbeknownst to the cell phone subscriber.  The phone hijacker will receive a commission from each sender, and this typically happens before phone subscribers even realize.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has warned users about malware problems, and a re-education process is in the works.  Malware will still evolve, but so will the software programs aimed at preventing malware from causing catastrophic issues.

Sources: MarketWatch, AFP

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