McAfee: Mobile Malware Explodes, Increases 1,200% In Q1 2012

Security and anti-spam firm McAfee today reported that it saw a massive uptick in mobile malware last quarter. Mobile malware has “exploded,” the company said (PDF), “with a significant increase on Android devices. In addition, McAfee also found a slight increase in malware targeting the Mac, but the report notes that this trend was not “extreme.” Despite the increase in mobile and Mac malware, as well as password-stealing Trojans, the good news in today’s report is that global spam level dropped quite a bit during the last quarter, though we are still talking about a trillion messages per month.

This quarter’s increase in mobile malware is partly due to the fact that McAfee improved its ability to find these threats, but it still represents a massive increase. The company collected about 8,000 mobile malware samples last month. These threats, as usual, mostly target Android. While Google and other major store have made great strides in keeping malware out of their stores, third-party stores and forums remain a problem. Among the areas of mobile malware that saw major increases in threats was mobile backdoor malware and the always popular premium-rate SMS-sending malware.

The report also noted that the company found one of the first destructive Android Trojans this quarter. This piece of malware doesn’t damage apps or executables, but instead targets a user’s photos and then adds an image of the Ayatollah Khomeini to each picture.

Here are a few additional interesting data points from the report:

  • Q1 2012 had the largest number of PC malware detected per quarter (83 million)
  • McAfee found about 250 new Mac malware samples last quarter and about 150 fake Mac anti-virus samples
  • spam levels dropped to 1 trillion per month
  • the United States represents the primary source of cyber attacks

You can find the full report here (PDF).