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Android malware jumps

by on22 November 2011

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McAfee says it is the primary target

The Android mobile operating system solidified its lead as the primary target for new mobile malware according to a report from insecurity outfit McAfee.

In its McAfee Threats Report: Third Quarter 2011, the outfit said that the amount of malware targeted at Android devices jumped nearly 37 per cent since last quarter, and puts 2011 on track to be the busiest in mobile and general malware history. Nearly all new mobile malware in this quarter was targeted at Android, the report said.

Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of McAfee Labs said that this had been a very steady quarter in terms of threats, as both general and mobile malware are more prevalent than ever. “So far this year, we’ve seen many interesting yet challenging trends that are affecting the threat landscape, including heightened levels of sophistication and high-profile hacktivist attacks,” he said.

At the end of 2010, McAfee Labs predicted that malware would reach the 70 million unique samples by the end of 2011. Because of the rapid proliferation of malware this year, McAfee Labs has increased this prediction to 75 million unique malware samples reached by year’s end, the busiest in malware history. Malware authors are capitalising on the popularity of Android devices, as demonstrated by the fact that the Android platform was the only mobile operating system for all new mobile malware in Q3.

One of the most popular forms of trickery in the third quarter was SMS-sending Trojans that collect personal information and steal money. Another new method of stealing user information is malware that records phone conversations and forwards them to the attacker.

Fake Anti-Virus (AV), AutoRun and password-stealing Trojans have bounced back strongly from previous quarters, while AutoRun and passwords stealers remain at relatively constant levels. Mac malware also continues to grow, following a sharp increase in last part of the year.

Although the increase in third quarter was not as significant, McAfee Labs warns that as certain platforms grow in popularity for both consumer and business use, such as the Mac operating system, malware authors will increasingly use theses platforms to target victims.

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