Malware Witnesses Significant Rise [McAfee]


McAfee published its latest quarterly threats report for Q2 2012 and it emerged that more than 15 lakh, or 1.5 million unique additions to malware samples were noted worldwide. By the end of the second quarter, the security solutions giant recognized more than 9 crore malware samples and believes that Q3 could witness the figure crossing the 10 crore, or 100 million mark. The report also had insights for malware activity in India.

The second quarter of 2012 also witnessed a more than 40% spike in Ransomware, a class of malware that holds computer users to ransom. Once this type of malware affects a computer it holds the computer hostage by encrypting data, locking access to system or even by rendering the system completely inaccessible.


Subsequently, a ransom demand is made, asking the user to either pay money by making a wire transfer, purchasing a product or by other virtual means. As ransomware is increasingly becoming the focus of attention of malware developers and code writers, McAfee’s words of advice for the everyday computer user include being cautious while opening links and files in emails, and backing up data on a regular basis.

Volume of Spam in India

A slight increase in the levels of spam worldwide was caused by a spike in few countries including Japan, South Korea and Colombia. Volume of spam in India declined in June 2012 and has been down significantly since September 2011. More than half of spamming activity in India was driven by drug-related subjects. Other topics driving spam in India included lottos, webinars, casinos, phishing and jobs.

Spam Volume in India

Spam Volume

#OpIndia was noted in the McAfee Threats report as a highlight of Hacktivism in Q2 2012. The group was credited with attacking a couple of government websites in June, putting them down for at least a day.

Mobile Malware rises Exponentially

Worldwide, new mobile malware found in Q2 2012 has been on the decline since Q1 2012. However it should be noted that 2012 has possibly been the worst year for new mobile malware.

In Q4 2011, less than 500 new malware for mobile platforms were discovered. The same figure jumped to more than 6,000 for Q1 2012 and just less than 5,000 for Q2 2012. McAfee terms this unprecedented growth in 2012 ‘explosive’.

Mobile Malware

As use of smartphones and tablets in corporate India increases, these figures for mobile malware could be a cause of concern for companies trying to safeguard corporate data and other malicious activities on mobile devices.

Unfortunately for android users, almost all the mobile malware was directed towards their platform.

Only a small portion of all the malware attacks on mobile platforms in 2012 was directed towards Symbian and Java ME platforms. The seemingly unbreakable iOS remained virtually untouched.

Mobile Malware by Platform

Commenting on the staggering number of malware attacks on the android platform, the report said "Mobile malware is certainly not proof-of-concept or early code. It is fully functional and mature, and mobile malware writers know what they are looking for: consumer and business data."

The second quarter of 2012 witnessed the fastest spread of malware in 4 years and US remained to be the largest host and originator of malicious content and threats. As experts and policy makers across the world continue their efforts to ban, censor and crack down on suspicious and malicious online activity, McAfee believes that the answer may simply lie in ‘innovation’.

[Full pdf report]

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