McAfee says malware is getting more sophisticated

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McAfee’s fourth quarter 2012 threats report highlights the fact that malware attacks are not only growing in frequency but sophistication. The security firm said the number of trojans built to steal passwords was up 72 percent during the last three months of 2012.

We are told that some of the malware in question is part of customized, targeted threats while others are just your run-of-the-mill malware. McAfee specifically mentioned the Citadel trojan as an example that was designed to target financial institutions. Banks also had to contend with Operation High Roller and Project Blitzkrieg in recent months.

Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of McAfee Labs, said we are seeing attacks shifting into a variety of new areas like factories, corporations and government agencies as well as the infrastructure that connects them. He suggests that it represents a new chapter in cyber security where creating malware for profit is now a growing underground market.

In related news, McAfee also says that mobile malware is at an all-time high. The security firm’s research shows that the number of mobile malware samples discovered last year were 44 times higher than the amount found in 2011. Specifically, Android-based malware jumped an alarming 85 percent during the last few months of 2012.

Booby-trapped websites are becoming more prominent as well, replacing botnets as a means of attack. Suspicious URLs rose 70 percent and of those, 95 percent were found to host malware.

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