Malware Sees an Increase as Mobile Devices Proliferate

Sue Marquette Poremba

I love my Android devices, but I’m not blind about their security problems. Android has been a prime target for malware makers almost from the get-go, taking advantage of the lax standards for apps and the ability to download apps from third-party sources. I learned that I have to be vigilant about the apps I want to add and to make sure I have good security protection. Essentially, I have taken the attitude that it is what it is.

A new report from McAfee pretty much confirms what I’ve known for a while: Android devices are a prime target for malware. According to a statement by McAfee Labs’ Vincent Weafer, what used to be attacks primarily on PCs have moved to other devices. So, of course, that is going to increase the amount of malware delivered.

In its “Second Quarter Threats Report,” the folks at McAfee said:

Looking at the second quarter of 2012, the key things that stood out were the emergence of mobile (Android) ‘drive-by downloads’ as a new attack vector, the use of Twitter for control of mobile botnets, and the appearance of mobile ‘ransomware’ as the newest way of extracting funds from unsuspecting victims.

And, yes, Apple owners, malware targeted to your devices is up as well.

Should we be surprised that malware — and new ways of delivering malware to devices — is on the rise? It always seems like some new gadget or social media site is being introduced. I look at my own work space. I have five devices and all of them are different in terms of what is loaded on them — operating systems, software and applications. I have increased my opportunity to be hit with malware by five. I’m certainly more at risk than my spouse who has one device.

The twin growth of malware and mobile seems to be the focus of the articles I’ve seen on the McAfee report, too. And it is an important focus. But the growing trend of ransomware, as McAfee discusses in its report, is a concern that I think needs to be discussed more in depth, which I will do in coming days.

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