SAN FRANCISCO—The first quarter was the busiest ever for malware, with more than 6 million unique sales of recorded malware, according to a report by security software vendor McAfee Inc.
The McAfee threats report for the first quarter concludes that malware no longer affects just PCs. As Android devices have grown in popularity, the platform solidified its spot as the second most popular environment for mobile malware behind Symbian OS during the first three months of the year, according to McAfee, which is now a wholly owned subsidiary of microprocessor giant Intel Corp. after being acquired last year for $7.68 billion.
McAfee also released Wednesday (June 1) a McAfee Labs mobile application security whitepaper that discusses how most Android devices allow the "side-loading" of apps and are not restricted to getting them from a centralized app store. There is no centralized place where Google can check all apps for suspicious behavior, according to McAfee.
In the first quarter, McAfee Labs found that the most prominent types of Android mobile malware were Android/DrdDream, Android/Drad, Android/SteamyScr.A and Android/Bgyoulu, which affected everything from games to apps to SMS data, according to the firm.
With more than six million unique malware samples in the first quarter, the period far exceeded any first quarter in malware history, according to McAfee. February saw the most new malware samples of the quarter, approximately 2.75 million, McAfee said. Fake anti-virus software had a very active quarter as well, reaching its highest levels in more than a year, totaling 350,000 unique fake-alert samples in March, McAfee said.
But while Q1 was a record quarter for malware, spam was reduced to its lowest level since 2007, thanks in large part to the takedown of the Rustock botnet, according to the report. The Rustock botnet was reportedly taken down in March through a coordinated effort by Internet service providers and software firms.
Vincent Weafer, senior vice president at McAfee Labs, said through a statement that the first quarter threats report shows cybercriminals started off 2011 busy.
"Even though this past quarter once again showed that spam has slowed, it doesn't mean that cybercriminals aren't actively pursuing alternate avenues," Weafer said. "We’re seeing a lot of emerging threats, such as Android malware and new botnets attempting to take over where Rustock left off, that will have a significant impact on the activity we see quarter after quarter."