Every three months or so, security firm McAfee shares with the world all the trends uncovered and identified by its research labs.
The quarterly results rarely offer any good news, and unfortunately the first three months of 2011 are off to a very troubling start — unless you're a cyber criminal.
We went through McAfee's most recent quarterly threat review and identified a dozen worrying trends you might want to be aware of:
- There appeared to be a significant reduction in spam although research shows that many others are waiting in the wings to take its place. McAfee worries that the reduction is just as a result of a pause by global cyber gangs as they retool and upgrade their attacks.
- Historically, Android has been ranked as the third most targeted mobile platform, but in the last three months it has jumped to the number 2 spot overall for mobile malware.
- Mobile malware will continue to evolve in sophistication and functionality and at a much faster rate than the development of PC-based malware. Criminals are now using everything they've learned in developing PC-based malware and quickly adapting those lessons to anything mobile.
- Hacktivism may be on the rise again, as exhibited by a number of high profile hacks like the Sony PlayStation Network, the Wikileaks saga, and the uprisings around the Arab world.
- Malware just posted its busiest quarter in history. McAfee Labs identified more than six million unique types of malware in the last twelve weeks, the busiest quarter on record, and adding up to about 75 million different types of malware expected by the end of this year.
- Fake anti-virus software seems to be on the rise again and password-stealing Trojans are demonstrating a consistent level of activity.
- Search-term manipulation continues, with criminals talking advantage of vulnerabilities in search rankings to lead users to malicious sites. McAfee found that 49% of the daily search terms in the top 100 results lead to some kind of malicious web site.
- McAfee identified a new password-stealing Trojan every day of the quarter.
- Banking stealing Trojans are now commonly being delivered by phishing emails, from UPS and FedEx, the IRS and NACHA.
- McAfee identified an average of 8,600 new infected websites every single day during the first three months of the year.
- Over the last three months, McAfee uncovered an average of 2,500 new phishing sites every day. The most common brands used in phishing emails included Wells Fargo and Paypal.
- The malicious exploit of Adobe products (more than 36,000 this quarter) topped the number of malicious exploits of Microsoft Office products by a wide margin.