McAfee's second quarter Threat Report shows a rise in malware in the last four years that is consistent with the growth in mobile use – where most of the attacks are now targeted.
The security firm found 1.5 million more incidents of malware during this quarter than the previous one, including new threats like mobile "drive-by downloads," Twitter-controlled botnets, and "ransomware."
"Over the last quarter we have seen prime examples of malware that impacted consumers, businesses, and critical infrastructure facilities," Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of McAfee Labs, said in a statement. "Attacks that we've traditionally seen on PCs are now marking their way to other devices."
As more and more people pick up smartphones and tablets, hackers are turning their attention to the mobile platform, especially the Android OS.
Following a malware explosion in 2012's first quarter, Android viruses show no signs of slowing down, McAfee said. Almost all new malware detected in the last quarter was directed at the Google-based OS, which was hit by SMS-based malware, mobile botnets, spyware, and destructive Trojans, according to the security firm.
McAfee counted almost 100,000 malware samples per day, identifying new fads like ransomware, which can wipe personal files or encrypt data, and botnets, a network of computers infected with malicious software used to generate spam.
The US was cited the biggest overall source and target of digital attacks, with the top network threats Stateside coming from remote procedure call, SQL injection, browser, cross-site scripting, and a number of unnamed others.
"We can say with confidence that the United States again appears to be the biggest overall source and target of cyberattacks," the report said.
Old favourites also made a comeback last quarter, when thumb drive and password-stealing malware grew with almost 2.8 million new combined samples, McAfee reported.
"Websites with malicious reputations are influenced by the hosting of malware, potentially unwanted programs, or phishing sites," the firm said.
This quarter, McAfee Labs recorded an average of 2.7 million new bad URLs per month, or 10,000 every day. More than 94 per cent host malware, exploits, or code specifically designed to hijack computers.
Recently, Oracle's Java patch was not enough to block hackers from sending phishing emails that claimed to be from Microsoft or Amazon.
McAfee's total malware samples from the last quarters, dating back to July 2011, are compiled in a graph (see top).
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