Malware attacks have risen dramatically in the past four years

September 6, 2012

The McAfee Quarterly Threats report shows that the number of unique malware threats detected on computers has reached 1.5 million in the second quarter of 2012. This marks the biggest jump in malware detection in the past four years.

The creation of new forms of malware has contributed to the rise in attacks. "Drive-by downloads," mobile botnets and mobile "ransomware" are new attack plans that are meant to access personal information, take control and make it harder for users to identify. Attacks that were traditionally seen on PCs are now making their way onto other mobile devices, according to senior vice president of McAfee Labs, Vincent Weafer.

Drive-by downloads refer to a virus or malware that controls a computer without a person's knowledge and does not require users to fill in personal information. Ransomware, which has become popular among internet criminals, holds computers and data hostage, and can lead to the loss of photos and personal data on a mobile device. Botnets are also infecting computers with malicious links while computers can contract a virus  through a fake IM or tweet. Users that open an attachment from a botnet are brought to a fake website that spreads the malware.

A separate cybercrime report by a security technology company reaffirms the results and the growing danger of hacker attacks. In the United States, about 71 million people have been victimized by some form of cybercrime in the past 12 months. Each U.S. victim loses an average of $197, according to the survey.

As hackers continue to target mobile devices, consumers are taking security measures to prevent data breaches. Users are downloading security software on their mobile devices and implementing encryption and passwords as a form of data protection to make it harder for unauthorized users. Experts remind computer and mobile device owners to be careful when opening emails and avoid suspicious links.

-McAfee Cloud Security