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McAfee Q1 Threats Report

“In the first quarter of 2012, we have already detected 8 million new malware samples,” said Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of McAfee Labs. “We don’t know when we will top the 100 million mark, but it will certainly happen in the next few quarters,” says the report. Only spam seems to be decreasing. “Spam volume grew again early in the quarter but then resumed its downward trend.”

Mobile malware is given special mention, with a huge 1200 percentage increase over the previous quarter. McAfee accepts that some of this increase is due to its own improved ability to detect and gather mobile malware samples; but the bottom line is that there are now some 8000 examples. “The jump was targeted almost solely at the Android platform,” which accounts for almost 7000 of them, says the report.

The Android threat primarily comes from third-party markets particularly in China and Russia, rather than the official Android market. For this reason McAfee recommends that users should only download and install from the official market. “That step should greatly reduce the risk of compromising your Android device,” it adds.

McAfee also notes the continuing threat from botnets, reaching nearly 5 million infections at one point. Cutwail was the most prevalent, with nearly 2 million new infections this quarter. The United States, it notes, is currently home to the most botnet control servers, and is also the location of the majority of new malicious websites, “with an average of 9,000 new bad sites recorded per day.”

Hacktivism and Anonymous get a mention, with the takedown of several websites. “Perhaps more interesting is that in Europe Anonymous was also able to mobilize their sympathizers in the street... This was certainly an interesting mix of digital-based hacktivism and physical world activism. Could this be a portent...?” it asks.

But the bottom line and message from McAfee remains constant. “The web is a dangerous place for the uninformed and unprotected... Threats continue to evolve, and attackers continue to push the envelope.”

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