McAfee: Malware at highest level for four years

Malware attacks are at the highest level for four years according to a McAfee report, with a malicious code writers finding new ways to attack mobile devices.

The Intel owned security company today revealed the results of its quarterly Threats Report, highlighting a 1.5 million increase in malware since the first quarter of 2012.  

McAfee Labs’ 500 researchers uncovered almost 100,000 malware samples each day, as attacks became more varied.

“Attacks that we’ve traditionally seen PCs are now making their way to other devices,” Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of McAfee Labs. said.  

This included Apple’s Mac devices targeted by the Flashback trojan, for example, as well as the ‘Find and Call’ malware worming its way into the Apple Store.

Also, attacks on mobile devices continued to increase after an explosion of mobile malware in the first quarter, according to McAfee. Nearly all of the new instances of malware were directed towards the Android operating system – including mobile botnets, spyware and SMS-sending malware.

Ransomware, malware which restricts access to a device until money is given to the attacker, was also on the increase, and is becoming a popular tool for cybercriminals. Instances of ransomware, typically targeting PCs, have increased with attacks favouring mobile devices.

Cyber criminals have also found new ways to control botnets to ensure anonymity, such as using Twitter.  Botnets, computer networks of infected machines used to send spam or to launch distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks, are now being controlled through the social media site, with attackers tweeting commands to all infected devices. Overall instances of botnet infections reached a 12 month high during the quarter.

Malware being spread through USB thumb drives showed significant increases, with 1.2 million new samples of the AutoRun worm.  Password stealing  malware samples also increased by 1.6 million.