Malware targeted toward Android devices continues to surge, says a new report from
McAfee, pushing 2011 to become the busiest year in history for both mobile and general malware.
The amount of malware infecting Android devices during the third quarter grew almost
37 percent from the second quarter, according to McAfee's Third-Quarter Threats Report (PDF). Android's growing demand among consumers has
made it an increasingly ripe and inviting target for cybercriminals.
How inviting? Almost all new mobile malware over the third quarter was aimed
squarely at Android. Legacy software being what it is, though, among all mobile platforms, Nokia's Symbian OS still
saw the greatest amount of malware.
One common scheme against Android is led by Trojans that collect personal
information and steal money from the user by sending SMS messages. Another type of malware records phone
conversations and sends them to the attacker.
"This has been a very steady quarter in terms of threats, as both general and mobile
malware are more prevalent than ever," said Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of McAfee Labs, in a statement.
"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."
Phony antivirus products, AutoRun malware, and password-stealing Trojans were among
the most common types of malware in the quarter, staging a rebound from previous quarters. Malware aimed at
continues to grow as Apple computers experience greater demand among both consumers and
The number of botnet infections inched down over the third quarter but staged some
dramatic gains in countries such as Argentina, Indonesia, Russia, and Venezuela. Cutwail, Festi, and Lethicproved to be the most dangerous and damaging
botnets last quarter.
And though spam has dropped in numbers since 2007, it's grown in sophistication,
according to McAfee. Spearphishing, or targeted spam, is increasingly being adopted by more attackers and is
proving to be a highly effective form of malware.
"The noise tells us spam levels have dropped, yet the signal we need to hear is that
the bad guys have changed their tactics," the report noted. "They are protecting their business models and are
doing so with a sophistication that creates a more dangerous threat than before."