McAfee: Android increasingly targeted by malware authors

android_virusComputer security specialists McAfee has said in its second quarter Threats Report that malware on mobile operating systems is becoming an increasing problem, with Android replacing Symbian to become the OS most likely to be targeted.

According to McAfee, malware aimed at Google’s Android has surged 76 percent in the space of three months.

In a statement on its website, McAfee said: “This year we’ve seen record breaking numbers of malware, especially on mobile devices, where the uptick is in direct correlation to popularity.”

It continued: “Overall attacks are becoming more stealth and more sophisticated, suggesting that we could see attacks that remain unnoticed for longer periods of time. High-profile hacktivist groups have also changed the landscape by drawing a line between attacks for personal gain and attacks meant to send a message.”

McAfee also said that “with the vast amounts of personal and business data now found on user’s mobile phones, mobile malware is steadily increasing, often mimicking the same code as PC-based threats.”

The company explained that the rapid rise in Android malware shows that the OS “could become an increasing target for cyber-criminals – affecting everything from calendar apps, to comedy apps to SMS messages to a fake Angry Birds updates.”

The report also pointed out that with more widespread ownership of Mac computers, partly as a result of more businesses using them, Apple computers have also become more of a target for malware authors.

One nugget of good news in McAfee’s report is that “spam is still at historic low levels” – partly thanks to the demise of the Rustock botnet back in March – though even then McAfee believes there will be a sharp rise over the coming months.