Mobile malware up 46% in 2010, says McAfee

Malware targeting mobile devices rose 46% in 2010, according to the latest quarterly threat report from McAfee.

Malware targeting mobile devices rose 46% in 2010, according to the latest quarterly threat report from security firm McAfee.

The key finding of the report is that the significant increase in mobile malware throughout the last quarter of 2010 is expected to continue throughout 2011.

Researchers found that while Nokia's Symbian operating system is still the most targeted, hackers are starting to focus on Apple's iOS and Google's Android systems.

Cybercriminals are tracking the increased popularity of Android, which overtook Symbian for the first time in the last quarter of 2010.

"Our Q4 Threats Report shows that cybercriminals are keeping tabs on what's popular, and what will have the biggest impact from the smallest effort," said Vincent Weafer, senior vice-president of McAfee Labs.

The research shows cybercriminals are tapped in to the same trends worldwide, with a direct correlation between device popularity and cybercriminal activity, he said.

According to McAfee, hackers are also increasingly targeting smartphones because while they are being used for more online transactions, they do not have the same level of the security as desktop PCs.

Hackers are likely to continue taking advantage of the popularity of mobile app stores, by planting malware in legitimate applications, said Greg Day, director of security strategy at McAfee.

Consumerisation, he said, driven by demand for access to anything from anywhere using any device, is another of the biggest challenges many businesses will have to face in the coming years.

Companies should identify specific threats to their business, then implement a strategy aimed at mitigating those particular threats, said Day.

In 2010, McAfee identified and protected users against 20m new pieces of malware, which means 2010 alone accounted for 36% of all malware identified since 2007.

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