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2018 could be year of mobile malware, says McAfee 

Security firm announces several mobile industry partnerships as its latest mobile threat report shows mobile malware is becoming increasingly popular with cyber attackers

McAfee detected 16 million malware infections in the third quarter of 2017 alone, nearly double the number for the equivalent period the previous year, according to the firm’s latest mobile threat teport.

The past year not only marked an explosion in mobile malware, but also showed significant changes in the mobile landscape, setting up 2018 to be a year of advanced and targeted attacks, according to the report, unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The estimated five billion mobile users worldwide proved to be enticing bait for malware authors, who ramped up not only the number of attacks, but also the level of sophistication.

McAfee Labs also reported new threats emerging around the globe, from Afghanistan and Algeria to Sweden, the UK, the US and Cuba.

The primary motivation for mobile attacks is financial gain, but the more concerning trend is targeted attacks, the report said.

The report detailed the working of several targeted campaigns discovered by McAfee, including the first attempt of the Lazarus group into mobile, and outlined the discovery of a new threat campaign against protesters in Iran during recent anti-government demonstrations.

Based on these findings, the report predicted that 2018 will see more banking Trojans targeting account holders of large multinational and small regional banks, more virtual bank robberies targeting the cryptocurrency industry, and more targeted surveillance through mobile devices.

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The report also noted that the increasing proliferation of internet of things (IoT) devices is likely to increase the overall attack surface for cyber criminals.

In the light of these findings, McAfee said it is more important than ever for the entire ecosystem to work together to protect consumers around the world.

In line with this view, McAfee has extended its partnership with Samsung to safeguard all Galaxy S9 smartphones, the Galaxy Note8, and Samsung’s smart TVs, PCs and notebooks. McAfee has partnered with Telefónica to protect customer home devices based on the internet access router, marking the first time a telecommunications company has delivered internet security for all customers.

McAfee’s partnership with Strategic Türk Telekom is aimed at providing cross-device mobile security for mobile and broadband customers. McAfee also announce that it has extended its partnership with NTT DOCOMO, adding the Wi-Fi security function to the Anshin Security app.

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John Giamatteo, executive vice-president, consumer business group at McAfee, said it is “crucial” for businesses to collaborate to tackle the significant increase in security threats.

“No one company can do it alone,” he said. “Our partners share our belief that security must be built in from the start and prioritised to canvass all devices and networks.”

As global cyber crime is estimated to cost $600bn in 2018, the preferred choice of access for most of the world’s population is a mobile device, said the report, suggesting that 2018 may be the year of mobile malware.

The report noted that the pace at which malware has evolved on mobile devices is “alarming”, adding that with banking Trojans generating revenues in the millions, and ad-click fraud and cryptomining apps flooding online stores, McAfee researchers expect to see considerably more exploitation of mobile devices in 2018.

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