Malware Attacks At Four Year High
September 5, 2012

Beware The Malware! Attacks On The Rise According To McAfee

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Malware attacks have skyrocketed at the fastest pace in four years, according to a second-quarter Threat Report by security software maker McAfee, a subsidiary of Intel.

The firm said it had found more than 8 million new kinds of malware during the second quarter, a 23 percent increase from the previous quarter.

There are now more than 90 million unique strands of malware in existence, including new threats like mobile "drive-by downloads," Twitter-controlled botnets and "ransomware,” which can wipe personal files or encrypt data.

"Over the last quarter we have seen prime examples of malware that impacted consumers, businesses, and critical infrastructure facilities," said Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of McAfee Labs, in a statement.

As a growing number of people turn to smartphones and tablets, hackers are increasingly targeting mobile platforms, particularly Google´s Android OS, McAfee said in its report.

"Attacks that we've traditionally seen on PCs are now making their way to other devices. For example, in Q2 we saw Flashback, which targeted Macintosh devices and techniques such as ransomware and drive-by downloads targeting mobile. This report highlights the need for protection on all devices that may be used to access the Internet."

Indeed, nearly all new malware detected in the second quarter were directed at Android, which was attacked with SMS-based malware, mobile botnets, spyware and destructive Trojans.

“As PC malware writers master their craft, they continue to transfer their skills to other popular consumer and business platforms, such as Google's Android OS,” McAfee said.

“After the mobile malware explosion in Q1 2012, Android malware shows no signs of slowing down, putting users on high alert.”

The security firm said it counted some 100,000 malware samples per day, including new trends like ransomware along with traditional botnets, in which a network of computers infected with malware is used to generate spam.

Even Twitter has become a tool for attacks from botnets, since the micro-blogging service allows cyber-criminals to forego buying (or stealing) an expensive Web server from which to launch their attacks.

As in previous quarters, the United States appears to be the biggest source and target of cyberattacks, McAfee said.

The top U.S. network threats came from remote procedures called, SQL injection, browser, cross-site scripting and a number of unnamed others, according to the report.

Some 2.8 million new samples of thumb drive and password-stealing malware were also seen during the second quarter.

The security firm also recorded an average of 2.7 million new bad URLs per month, more than 94 percent of which host malware, exploits or code specifically designed to hijack computers.

“In June, these new URLs were related to about 300,000 bad domains, which is equivalent to 10,000 new malicious domains every day.”