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McAfee names Android as biggest malware target

Security specialist McAfee has released its latest Threats Report, and makes the claim that the success of Google's Android platform is gathering some unwelcome attention from ne'er-do-wells.

According to figures released in the company's latest report, devices running Android have - for the first time in the platform's history - been targeted by attackers more than devices running Nokia's Symbian platform.

While that seems logical - Symbian, after all, has been all-but abandoned by Nokia as it makes the move to Microsoft's Windows Phone platform, and its use in developing nations makes it a poor target compared to other platforms - it's an unwelcome milestone in the proliferation of Google's popular platform.

According to McAfee's research, the amount of malware detected by the company for the Android platform has risen 76 per cent in the last quarter alone, suggesting that deployment has reached a tipping point that has made it a tempting enough target for malicious types to attack en masse.

Recent malicious packages detected for the platform include a Trojan which records ongoing calls and sends them to a remote server for playback and a proof-of-concept creation which listens out for credit card numbers - spoken or typed - and records them for later abuse.

Mobile platforms are likely to get increasingly targeted by attackers, as developments like Near-Field Communications allow users to store financial details on their smartphones and use them to make payments - giving an attacker a financial motive - and as the power increases, with upcoming quad-core smartphones potentially having the power to join a 'botnet' of compromised devices without its owner ever realising.

McAfee, of course, has a solution to this in the form of an Android-friendly anti-malware utility, and it's joined by a raft of other security firms eager to part smartphone users from their cash. How much protection such software would offer against a newly-released threat, however, isn't clear.