McAfee: Hackers increasingly targeting Android devices

McAfee: Hackers increasingly targeting Android devices

Summary: Google's mobile platform remains in the crosshairs of hackers, warns McAfee. Some variants surged by more than 30 percent in the first quarter alone.


Cyber criminals are targeting everything from social networking sites to desktop machines, mobile devices and in some rare cases, medical equipment.

But more and more, Android is gaining focus in the hacker's eyes.

According to the latest McAfee Threat Report [PDF], which covers the first quarter of 2013, malware on the Google developed mobile platform surged by more than 30 percent in the first three months of the year. Mobile attacks remained on course to surpass 2012's total numbers. 

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 11.00.29
Total mobile malware samples in the database (Image: McAfee)

According to the antivirus firm, mobile malware has also spread to booming smartphone economies, such as South Korea and India, the latter where there will be approximately 67 million smartphone subscribers in the country by the end of this year. This represents around 6 percent of the total Indian population. 

Overall, there are just shy of 51,000 new malicious attacks in McAfee's database of mobile malware samples for the first month. But, this is down slightly from the last three months of 2012. This is compared to just 792 samples in all of 2011.

Android takes the largest slice of the mobile malware by platform pie. Symbian was next with low single-digits percent, followed by Java, which by now is almost non-existent. Other platforms, such as BlackBerry and iOS, didn't even register.

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 11.01.14
New Android malware (Image: McAfee)

McAfee said the threats of Android-based mobile commercial spyware and adware was declining, with many spyware and targeted attacks becoming more prominent. The increase in botnets is also clear, the company warns, reiterating comments made earlier this year when it warned that the more developed nations and regions are becoming a hotbed of activity.

Talking about targeted Trojans, the report reads: "As late as the end of last year, it was possible to say that the majority of mobile attacks were located in Russia and China. This quarter, however, we have seen criminals expand their activities to other parts of the world."

Many appear to be directly targeting activists, McAfee warns.

Also in the report, PCs remain the most targeted vector for hackers and attacks. McAfee reports a total of 128 million samples in its database.

Social networks are also being targeted, such as Facebook and Twitter, in order to trick friends and associates into installing malicious code. McAfee reported a "significant" spike in the Koobface work during the first quarter.

Topics: Malware, Android, Security

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  • In other news...

    Home security companies say that burglary rates are up.
    Third of Five
  • McAfee: Hackers increasingly targeting Android devices

    Hackers are smart. They know android is based on linux and linux leaves the telnet port open making it easy to access. Its a hackers dream.
    • Meh!

    • you look like a fool

      you can never come up with a valid criticism besides this bogus 'telnet port' issue. In my windows PC, the entire firewall is open. This means linux is great!
  • Blackberry 10 is a better Android

    Fast browsing, QNX real-time OS, smooth multi-tasking, single hand navigation, great camera. Ability to run android apps.

    The hardware is pretty good with its snapdragon processor and 2 Gigs of memory. Though it is not up to Samsung S4 yet.

    Some of the big apps are only available as android versions. Netflix, instagram, etc. But I expect that to change once the Q10 releases in the US as I think the uptake will dramatically increase Blackberry's market percentage.
    • QNX is bloody proprietary

      so, no one gives a damn. RIM buried it before giving birth. Even if it is good it's doomed, MS can push any cr&*@p they want because they have money that RIM doesn't.
      If QNX were open, it would have had a chance.
      • Actually,

        Yes, QNX is proprietary, but it's not going away. Not unless all those automobile companies find something better. (And please don't say Sync - it's awful)
        • it will

          along with bankruptcy of RIM. Then it might rise from the dead free and open... reborn.
  • Of course they do

    android give the user the freedom to be stupid, by design. The android platform is based on a secure ground-up design - windows is not. Its still a swiss cheese at its core, allowing full system pwning by just visiting a web site. Surface pro is still as vurnerable as always. Those of us android users who do not go out of our way to sideload apk's from russian porn sites, ignoring the warnings that its requesting phone access, SMS access and full network, storage and address book permissions can have fun with the malware they've chosen to install.
    I hope windows phone gains enough market share to be worthwhile of hackers, which will quickly come up with ways to pwn it *without* warning.
    • ... no.

      Most of the "secure by design" stuff is marketing bullshit. Simply put, you need a bug that allows elevation of privileges, ideally you couple it with a bug that allows arbitrary remote code execution. Done.

      There are plenty of these bugs on ALL operating systems. Before Vista, you often didn't need the elevation of privileges part, because you usually were running with maximum privileges already.

      No user application can have root access on Android. Yet you can download an application that gives you root access it itself should not have. That's because it's using a known vulnerability.

      Android is great to attack because it has a large user base and no formal upgrade process for known vulnerabilities. That makes it one of the least secure operating systems.
      • the problem is malware

        you do not need to have a virus, I.e. obtain root access to do what the bad guys want.. Google does police the store for such apps. Android IS secure by design. not invulnerable, but compared to say, windows which has security now tacked on. If you install your apps from the play store and understand the permission requests, you have a extremely low chance of having a malware problem. end of story. I'll write a 'malware' in half an hour and write a report based on myself that android is being targeted with malware. how does it get on someone's device that is the question. it should not be able to unless you are dumb, or it sneaks by the store malware scanner.
        • How does it get on the device?

          Usually it gets on the device through a bug in an already installed application that allows arbitrary remote code execution. Often that application is the browser. These bugs are much easier to create in unmanaged languages than managed languages. Most new code on Android and Windows is mostly written in managed languages.

          Generally speaking, older applications written for Windows themselves are not as safe, because many were written when developers were not as aware that they shouldn't write stupidly insecure software (I'm looking at you, Sun and Macromedia). For somewhat recent applications(say, 2005+), there's no difference.
  • tech climate

    as things become more popular they are targeted more. I really hope things don't go overboard and that better security is able to be put in place. I love my android device!