McAfee Finds Personal Computer and Smartphone Threats at Four-Year High

8 million new malicious software samples have been detected since January 2012 due to unrelenting spammers and hackers

Since the start of the new year, PC malware (malicious software) has already reached the highest levels in four years, according to the McAfee Threats Report: First Quarter 2012. The report exposes a disturbing increase in malicious malware across all PC, Mac and mobile devices. Most importantly, McAfee detected a significant increase in malware targeting Android platform devices. Mac attacks are also on the rise, indicating that total malware could reach the 100 million mark within the year – a record number.

Report Findings:

  • 8,000 total mobile malware samples were collected showing a sharp increase during Q1 2012.
  • Nearly 7,000 Android threats have been collected and identified through the end of Q1.
  • Q1 2012 had the largest number of PC malware detected per quarter in the last four years – 83 million pieces of malware samples were collected by the end of Q1, up from 75 million samples at the end of Q4 2011.
  • Mac malware is still significantly less prevalent than PC malware, with approximately 250 new Mac malware samples, and approximately 150 new Mac fake anti-virus malware samples in Q1.
  • Global spam levels dropped to slightly more than 1 trillion monthly spam messages by the end of March.

“In the first quarter of 2012 we saw a giant spike in mobile malware, a jump targeting mostly the Android platform.  What was once hundreds of threats in the middle of 2011, is already into the thousands,” said Robert Siciliano, online security threat expert at McAfee.  “The majority of mobile attacks, and their malware, originate and attack third-party markets.  Be sure to use and install software and applications only found on official marketplaces, this will help reduce the risk of compromising your Android device.  At the end of the day, if you’re not protecting and taking care of your devices, and the data on them, today’s cybercriminals will.

Tips to Avoid Becoming a Victim:

For PC and Macs,

  1. Download PC or Mac updates as soon as they’re available, so you’re protected from these latest threats.
  2. Never download or click on anything from an unknown source.
  3. When searching the web, use the safe search tool like McAfee SiteAdvisor®, which tells you if a site is safe to click on or not right in your search results.
  4. Keep your computer safe by installing security software from a reputable vendor, such as McAfee Internet Security (PC and Mac versions available).


For mobile devices,

  1. Research apps and their publishers thoroughly and check the ratings – better to install apps that are broadly used in the market or are recommended by your circle of friends and colleagues
  2. It is wise to purchase from a well-known reputable app store market, such as the Android Market. One way for Android users to avoid installation of non-market applications is to de-select the “Unknown sources” option in the Applications Settings menu on their device.  If the option is not listed, it means your mobile service provider has already done this for the user.
  3. When you install an app, you’ll see a list of permissions for services that are granted access to the hardware and software components on your device, like contacts, camera and location. If something in the permissions screen doesn’t look right, don’t install that app! For example, a game or alarm clock app probably shouldn’t need to access your contacts or have the ability to transmit that data from your device.
  4. Install antivirus software on your phone.  It is a good idea to install an antivirus program when you get a new mobile device before you add any other apps.


Media Contact:

Kim Eichorn
(408) 346-3606
Follow McAfee Consumer News: @mcafeeconsumer

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