Q1 2011 worst on record for malware

The first quarter of 2011 was the worst for malware on record says McAfee.

There were six million unique samples of malware created during the quarter showing that cyber-criminals were no slouches recovering from their New Year’s Eve hang overs.

February was the worst for new malware threats with 2.75 million recorded that month.

Fake anti-virus software was also rife, with the 350,000 fake alerts in March the highest amount in over a year.

Spam was down due to takedowns of Rustock and Zeus botnets, remaining at its lowest levels since 2007 with 1.5 trillion messages a day meaning a reduced ratio of 3:1 compared to legitimate emails.  But there was plenty of activity by crims in other areas.

 Android is getting evermore attention as devices with the OS gain in popularity, with the Google software second placed behind Symbian for mobile malware threats.

With the ability to get third party apps away from the centralized Google store there are increasing concerns about the lack of ability to check for suspicious behavior says McAfee, with a number of apps found recently with backdoor Trojans.

The most prominent types of malware for Android in the first quarter were Android/DrdDream, Android/Drad, Adnroid/StemySCR.A and AndroidBgyoulu, with games, apps and SMS data getting hit.

While spam was down due to Rustock and Zeus decline in development, there are apparently many other botnets waiting to take over, with evidence towards the end of the quarter that the threat is about to ramp up again.

Another area of attack followed news stories such as the Japanese tsunami and earthquake which lead to an average of 8,600 new “bad sites” per day.

According to McAfee for each of the day’s top stories during the first quarter in the top 100 search results there was likely to be around 50 percent links leading to malicious sites.