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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.

Roger Cheng Former Executive Editor / Head of News
Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
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  • SABEW Best in Business 2011 Award for Breaking News Coverage, Eddie Award in 2020 for 5G coverage, runner-up National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Award for culture analysis.
Roger Cheng
2 min read

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.