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McAfee says Android plagued by the most malware

The security software company's latest threats report shows a steep increase in mobile malware, with Android as the primary target.

While the momentum of Google's Android platform has drawn new partners and customers, it has also attracted new threats.

Security software provider McAfee said today that the amount of malware, or malicious software, targeting Androids phones jumped 76 percent since the last quarter, making it the most heavily attacked mobile operating system. In addition, the company has found 12 million unique types of malware in the first half of the year, a 22 percent increase from a year ago, and expects to end the year with a database of 75 million samples of malware. McAfee today released its threats report for the second quarter (PDF).

"Overall attacks are becoming more stealth and more sophisticated, suggesting that we could see attacks that remain unnoticed for longer periods of time," said Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of McAfee Labs.

That's a pressing concern as more personal and corporate information flows through smartphones, making for attractive targets for hackers. Companies have started to address these concerns. Earlier this month, AT&T announced a mobile security offering for businesses, with plans to release a consumer version next year.

Android surpassed Symbian as the most targeted mobile operating system in the second quarter, McAfee said, adding that the overall malware threat has mimicked the growth in PC-based threats. The company added that Android could increasingly become a target for cybercriminals.

On the PC side, the increasing use of Apple computers by businesses has made it a more attractive target as well. Generally regarded as safer than PCs, Apple and its Macs have increasingly been a target for malware. McAfee noted the fake antivirus software which made its rounds through the Internet. The company said it does expect fake antivirus software will drop off in time.