At the risk of being accused of being a bearer of bad tidings, the release of the “McAfee Threats Report: Second Quarter 2013” can do all of the explaining. The just issued report found that Android-based malware achieved a 35 percent growth rate not seen since early 2012.
As McAfee notes, “This rebound was marked by the continued proliferation of SMS-stealing banking malware, fraudulent dating and entertainment apps, weaponized legitimate apps and malicious apps posing as useful tools. McAfee Labs registered twice as many new ransomware samples in Q2 as in Q1, raising the 2013 ransomware count higher than the total found in all previous periods combined.” In a word, “YIKES!”
Source: McAfee Threats Report: Second Quarter 2013
The report also highlights that in virtually every aspect of malicious activity the last quarter saw the bad guys stepping up the pace. For example, there was a 16-percent increase in suspicious URLs and a 50-percent increase in digitally-signed malware samples. The report further sites notable events in the cyber-attack and espionage areas, including multiple attacks on the global Bitcoin infrastructure and revelations around the Operation Troy network targeting U.S. and South Korean military assets, all of which are explored in detail.
They did not mention a number of other prominent incidents that included attacks on various types of major retailers, media and social media sites, etc.
Returning to mobile challenges for a moment, McAfee Labs researchers identified a set of common mobile strategies employed by cybercriminals to extract money and confidential information from victims. As you can see from reading the descriptions below this is not just a true rogue’s gallery of nasty stuff, but hopefully it will serve as a bit of guidance for not be fooled yourself. Horrible mobile attacks include:
“The mobile cybercrime landscape is becoming more defined as cybergangs determine which tactics are most effective and profitable,” said Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of McAfee Labs. “As in other mature areas of cybercrime, the profit motive of hacking bank accounts has eclipsed the technical challenges of bypassing digital trust. Tactics such as the dating and entertainment app scams benefit from the lack of attention paid to such schemes; while others simply target the mobile paradigm’s most popular currency: personal user information.”
However, with over 147 million malware types now in what McAfee calls its “zoo,” the researchers were also quick to point out that while certain types of old favorites are declining in use in the non-mobile arena, the statistics unfortunately highlight what they call, “The continued adaptability of attackers in adjusting tactics to opportunities, challenges to infrastructure upon which commerce relies, and a creative combination of disruption, distraction and destruction to veil advanced targeted attacks.” These include:
The reason the McAfee report is one that commands so much attention stems from the extensive implementation of its security solutions around the world. They put a lot of resource (500 researchers in 30 countries) into tracking and analyzing threats which is another reason why downloading the report and looking at the graphics and explanations is time well spent. As noted at the top it is always difficult to be the messenger of less than wonderful news, but when it comes to security knowledge is power in terms of preparedness to identity, remediate and protect your valuable information assets whether you are an enterprise or as the report notes are an individual mobile user who increasingly is being targeted not just for “fun” but for profit.
And, while the industry is getting good at letting us know about all of the activities, the reports IT administrators look at, and that we can all get from looking at scanning results are the real tales of what is going on. It is how we keep score on how well our protection is holding up, and an indicator of both our vulnerability as well as where we might wish to be more proactive.
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