McAfee sees 'malware explosion' across desktop, mobile platforms

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.


Topics: Hardware, Malware, Mobility, Security

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • That would certainly be a benefit to the likes of McAfee:)

    Just once I wish a person and or company not directly tied to a product and or service related to "malware" would make such announcement and or prediction.

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
    • Genius

      Yeah, someday I would like a technology company which is actually not a technology company to release statistics on technology.

      Maybe a bakery releasing statistics on anthrax breakouts. That sort of thing.

      If it helps though, someday I would like a search engine, or a social network to release the real numbers.
      • I loled

        Then I realized you were serious. You do know that there are highly advanced technology companies and / or government agencies who don't directly profit from the fear of malware right?
      • Direct Profit

        re LOL's reply to this post: Define "directly profit"? Now if you had said "don't profit, at all . . .", your question might be more to the point. Just saying . . . .
    • Exactly.

      Another "The sky is falling" release from a company that coincidentally has *just* the product to sell you to keep that sky from falling?

      Please. Yes, I agree that malware across all platforms is an issue that needs addressing, but it would be nice to hear someone talk about the problem who does not directly profit from the "solution."
  • Awesome Mobile App-Rewarded for Window Shopping :)

    Hi.. just thought of sharing this mobile shopping app MintM which rewards me with mint points for just visiting the shop while shopping and redeem them with variety of items in various outlets..

    I also get to maintain my shopping list and get the best deals available for the products in my list.. Made my day.. Freely available at

    Works great with Android and blackberry.. Happy Shopping!! Enjoy :)
  • Apple and Android has stuck their heads in the sand

    Apple willfully ignores the threat posed by malware, Google seems ill-equipped to maintain a market place with security in mind.
    Your Non Advocate
    • Use Amazon

      I mostly use Amazon but have both on my tablet and phone. I have antivirus on both. Just secure your device and leave the poorly designed apps with very bad graphics alone or anything in just a foreign language. Also, pay for a few apps. I mean under $5 is dirt cheap even though I have paid over $60 when I had a WinMo phone but the apps for that platform are top-notch professionally done.

      With Android if you root your device and throw on a custom rom and change flavors often then you can cut down on the odds. The device is consistently being reformatted. There are some good apps from well known brands you can use too that are professionally designed.
  • To McAfee

    "I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries. " - Monty Python
    Tony Burzio
  • I can believe that

    A couple months ago, one of my dad's desktop PCs that he uses in his accounting practice got infected. How did it happen? He got the infection by opening an electronic document he had received from one of his accounting clients.

    In addition to wiping out every last icon on the desktop and start menu, the infection installed a nasty rootkit...or more precisely, a well as 4 other nasty bugs that were dropped on the system after the initial infection had opened a bunch of backdoors. My dad had to contact his client to tell them they were infected and, sure enough, they eventually found 2 rootkits and some other stuff buried in their system. Interestingly, they were using McAfee on their network.... :-)
  • "Explosive" Reporting, Maybe

    Explosive reporting, maybe, but certainly not an explosion of malware across differing platforms. After all, how many of them run McAfee Security? Surely the malware didn't sneak through on those? And not to pick - solely - on McAfee, but much the same question should be asked of all the other A-V security service firms. Perhaps their Sales/Advertising staff needs to sit down and actually talk with the Engineers?
    • They do

      Sales/Marketing do talk to the Engineers usually along the lines of

      "We need more Malware to remove and quickly, or else we'll never meet our sales target. If you can't make any then invent some fake ones." Nobody will know anyway.
  • The business is giving us the business...

    My past dealings with McCrappy (oops, McAfee) in a large business environment was horrific in the PC world I worked at.
  • LOL

    When my company goes through annual security audits and penetration tests, we are *forbidden* to use the same company that tells us what the problem is, but also has a solution to fix that problem. Ya know, because that could introduce a "conflict of interest" from the company that labels the problem? if that logic is supposed to be an industry accepted best practice, why does that not translate to the consumer world?

    LOL... unless McAfee is telling us what the problem is... and suggesting Symantec has the solution for it? ;)
  • Alas Poor McAfee, I knew thee when................

    At one time "everybody" swore by McAfee as it was one of the greatest. Nowadays people are swearing at it! In almost every revue nowadays it is towards the bottom of any rating.
    When I was still working for the Government they even gave us a copy of McAfee so we could access our webpage. Even the Government used to use it. I'm not sure quite how they did it but if the webpage didn't see/ sense McAfee you couldn't even log in.
    If McAfee can see/ detect these new threats, "Why In Blue Blazes can't they produce a decent program to protect us from them???? Is that asking to much??
    Again, years back people swore by McAfee now they swear at it!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Mcafee

    I installed a free mcafee antivirus on my pc. I picked up a virus and Mcafee actually offered to get rid of it (for a fee!!!). For a fee? That smacks of opportunistic practices from an outfit whose program was to either prevent a virus or remove it. I promptly uninstalled mcafee and now use Avast. At least they don't try to charge me for doing their job...