Android now worst platform for malware

Android threats leapt 76 percent during the second quarter, according to the latest report from security consultants McAfee, making it the most attacked mobile operating system.

2011’s been the worst year so far for malware, it says, bringing the first-ever appearance of Mac fake AV and a significant rise in rootkits.

“This year we’ve seen record breaking numbers of malware, especially on mobile devices, where the uptick is in direct correlation to popularity,” says Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of McAfee Labs.

“Overall attacks are becoming more stealthy and more sophisticated, suggesting that we could see attacks that remain unnoticed for longer periods of time. High-profile hacktivist groups have also changed the landscape by drawing a line between attacks for personal gain and attacks meant to send a message.”

With around 12 million unique samples for the first half of 2011, 22 percent up on last year, this has been the busiest first half-year in malware history, says McAfee.

Android OS-based malware overtook the Symbian OS as the most popular target for mobile malware developers. The rapid rise in Android malware indicates that the platform could become an increasing target for cybercriminals.

Though in the past, the Apple platform has been unaffected by fake anti-virus software, McAfee says it’s now being affected – although the company does expect fake AV in general to drop off over time.

Stealth malware, though, is on the increase, with a number ofhigh-profile attacks such as Stuxnet.

And though spam is still at historic low levels, partly because of the Rustock takedown, McAfee still expects to see a sharp rise in activity over the coming months.

The company even gives an approximate price list for email addresses, used to spread spam: in the US, it says, the going rate for a million emails is $25, whereas in England 1.5 million emails are worth $100.

The full report is here.