McAfee sees 'malware explosion' across desktop, mobile platforms

Summary:Although Android is a prime target, McAfee researchers find that there is an increase in malware across all platforms.

McAfee has been repeatedly reporting about a surge of malware on Google's Android mobile operating system, but it looks like PC users should really be watching their desktops and laptops more closely than ever.

According to McAfee's threats report for the first quarter of 2011, PC malware reached its highest levels in four years. The primary attacks were increases in rootkits and password stealers, the latter of which round out to nearly approximately 1 million new samples in Q1 2012.

Overall, McAfee Labs detected more than 75 million malware samples by the end of 2011. If you add in Q1 2012, the total jumps to 83 million pieces.

McAfee also warned Mac users not to get too lazy as malware on Apple's desktop operating system is still growing at a consistent rate.

But mobile malware, especially open source Android, surely requires a closer look. McAfee researchers collected 8,000 total mobile malware samples in the first quarter of the year -- although there is the caveat that more samples were collected this time around thanks to some tech advancements on the part of McAfee Labs.

Still, nearly 7,000 Android threats were collected and identified by the end of Q1 -- up by more than 1,200 percent when compared with the 600 Android samples collected by the end of Q4 2011. McAfee attributed most of these threats to third-party app sources that are "typically not found" on Google Play.

Falling in line with arguments from many security specialists in the last year that spam rates are dropping in favor of targeted attacks, that theory continued to pan out in the first quarter.

This time around, global spam levels dropped to slightly -- to a little more than just 1 trillion monthly spam messages by the end of March.

Related:

Topics: Hardware, Malware, Mobility, Security

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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