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McAfee Threats Report: A Rise in Android Malware Attacks

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

McAfee released its quarterly McAfee Labs Threats Report, covering the rise in mobile security threats, most notably on the Android platform. There is a noteworthy absence of commentary on the Heartbleed bug due to the complexity of the situation; however, McAfee Labs promises coverage of the issue in a future report. Read the full June 2014 McAfee Labs Threat Report (PDF)

McAfee Labs found signs of a possible return of rootkit malware. There had been a recent decline in rootkit malware activity due to the adoption of 64-bit technology but this trend could be over. The first quarter of 2014 saw the largest rise in new rootkit malware since 2011, where it hit an all time high. McAfee does note the most prevalent rootkit malware was a 32-bit infection so this rise could turn out to be a statistical anomaly.

"We tend to trust names we know on the internet and risk compromising our safety if it means gaining what we most desire," says Vincent Weafer, senior vice president for McAfee Labs. "The year 2014 has already given us ample evidence that mobile malware developers are playing on these inclinations, to manipulate the familiar, legitimate features in the mobile apps and services we recognize and trust."

Perhaps the most concerning finding of the report is the evolution of app-based malware. It seems that malware developers have moved beyond exploiting weaknesses of installation platforms, but of the carrier software as well. Read: McAfee Predicts Mobile Is Prime Target In 2014, Cloud Next

Two pieces of malware mentioned hijack an exploited app's usage. The first is Android/BadInst.A which takes advantage of access granted to the app at the time of installation from the Google Play store to easily bypass security features of the app store. The second is Android/Waller.A that uses a service flaw and sends money-transfers to the attacker's servers.

These new developments in the mobile malware landscape carry some lessons for app developers. It is more important than ever to make proper authentication part of your mobile application. This obviously means creating a secure application in the first place, but developers must now check the security of third party data providers or others participate in the functioning of your app.

"Developers must become more vigilant with the controls they build into these apps, and users must be more mindful of what permissions they grant," says Weafer.

Other security threats found in the report include a sharp increase in malicious clones of the popular game Flappy Bird, and malware used to mine virtual currency.