Cellphone security threats rise sharply: McAfee

LONDON Tue Feb 8, 2011 8:09am EST

A customer looks at an iPhone 4 at the Apple Store 5th Avenue in New York, in this June 24, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Eric Thayer/Files

A customer looks at an iPhone 4 at the Apple Store 5th Avenue in New York, in this June 24, 2010 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Thayer/Files

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LONDON (Reuters) - Cellphone security threats rose sharply last year as a proliferation of Internet-enabled mobile devices like smartphones and tablets provided new opportunities for cybercriminals, security software maker McAfee MFE.N said.

In its fourth-quarter threat report, released on Tuesday, McAfee said the number of pieces of new cellphone malware it found in 2010 rose 46 percent over 2009's level.

"As more users access the Internet from an ever-expanding pool of devices -- computer, tablet, smartphone or Internet TV -- web-based threats will continue to grow in size and sophistication," it said.

McAfee, which is being bought by Intel (INTC.O) for $7.68 billion, said it expected PDF and Flash maker Adobe (ADBE.O) to remain a favorite of cybercriminals this year, after it overtook Microsoft (MSFT.O) in popularity as a target in 2010.

It attributed the trend to Adobe's greater popularity in mobile devices and non-Microsoft environments, coupled with the ongoing widespread use of PDF document files to convey malware.

McAfee said Google's (GOOG.O) Android, which last quarter overtook Nokia (NOK1V.HE) as the maker of the world's most popular smartphone software, had been targeted by a trojan horse that buried itself in Android applications and games.

And politically motivated hacking was on the rise, it said, with the highest-profile protagonist being the "Anonymous" activist group that targeted the websites of organizations it perceived to be hostile to controversial site WikiLeaks.

Confirming a trend that other software security companies have reported, McAfee said spam levels had decreased sharply, especially in the second half of the fourth quarter, with 62 percent less by the end of the year than at the beginning.

The company said, however, that spam's hitting its lowest level for years simply represented a transition period with several botnets -- collections of computers harnessed to act in concert -- going dormant at an usually busy time of year.

(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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Comments (3)
tangogo68 wrote:
I love the irony of illustrating the article with an image of an iPhone, yet the content of the piece doesn’t mention it as pertinent to McAfee’s warnings — I hope Apple keeps the proprietary Flash out of the iOS until the day after Adobe put adequate security efforts into their software to render it sufficiently safe and stable — I only put PDF files on my phone when they come from a trusted institutional source.
Some people want to do things with their technology (including myself), while others want to do things to their technology — that’s why I am not alone in feeling comfortable with Apple’s singular control over their iOS ecosystem.

Feb 08, 2011 1:15am EST  --  Report as abuse
laserfocus wrote:
Is this news or an advertisement?

Feb 08, 2011 12:53pm EST  --  Report as abuse
FriendsofP wrote:
I recently downloaded a new app for my Android called Task Identifier. It helps do all 4 suggestions above and then some.

Feb 11, 2011 11:23am EST  --  Report as abuse
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