Malware Explosion Reported By McAfee Labs
May 24, 2012

Malware Explosion Reported By McAfee Labs

Computer security experts at McAfee Labs are reporting a surge of malware on Google´s Android mobile operating system and are advising that PC users should be watching their desktops and laptops more closely than ever for malware and trojans, writes Rachel King for ZD Net.

McAfee´s threat report for the first quarter of 2011 highlights that PC malware has reached its highest levels in four years. The primary attacks were increases in rootkits and password stealers, the latter of which round out to nearly approximately 1 million new samples in Q1 2012.

Overall, McAfee Labs reported more than 75 million malware samples by the end of last year. With the addition of Q1 2012 numbers, the total jumps to 83 million pieces.

Malware that targets open source Android is growing strongly say McAfee researchers. Eight-thousand total mobile malware samples for that platform alone were discovered in the first quarter of the year – although there is the caveat that more samples were collected this time around thanks to some tech advancements on the part of McAfee Labs.

Nearly 7,000 Android threats were identified by the end of Q1, an increase of more than 1,200 percent when compared with the 600 Android samples collected by the end of Q4 2011, reports AFP.

Apple devices are also finding more directed malware as they have gained in popularity around the world, explains said McAfee Labs senior vice president Vincent Weafer. “As more homes and businesses use these platforms, the attacks will spread.” While Mac malware has been steadily proliferating, it is still a small fraction of what has been developed for PCs, according to McAfee.

If all of this wasn´t scary enough, the number of networks of virus-infected computers, referred to as “botnets,” rose to nearly five million, with Colombia, Japan, Poland, Spain and the United States seeing the biggest increases.

Among botnets, one named Cutwail was most active during the quarter, recruiting more than a million new machines. Nearly half of all new botnet control servers were in the US, writes Cameron Scott of Computer World.

Hackers employ booby-trapped e-mails or links to secretly infect machines with malware that can let them not only steal data or track keystrokes but use the infected machines to launch further attacks.

McAfee also found “significant amounts” of new adware, writes Sara Yin for PC Mag, which even security-conscious Android owners can catch from official app stores. Mobile adware refers to code within ad networks that can access more data and perform more functions on your device than you´re probably aware of.

In January, vendors Symantec and Lookout squabbled over the shade of grey of one particularly aggressive ad network being used to monetize free Android apps. Symantec initially identified it as malware called “Android.Counterclank,” but hours later, Lookout Mobile Security said the SDK in question was really an aggressive ad network called “Apperhand” that placed a search icon on your mobile desktop without your permission, and pushed ads through the notice bar.

Overall, just refer to the basics of PC security when going on with your connected day. Don´t open unknown files or suspicious e-mails and use some kind of security software and you can help keep the internet neat and tidy.