The most highly attacked operating system in mobile computing is Android, from Google, according to a security technology unit of chipmaker Intel.
The amount of malware targeted at Android devices jumped 76 percent in the second quarter of 2011, from the first, according to McAfee, in its latest threats report.
The surge is notable for the financial services industry, which accounts for roughly 40 percent of all corporate activations of mobile devices in this country, according to a separate report from Good Technology, a mobile security specialist.
Android is not alone, however. McAfee noted that the first half include the first appearance of a fake anti-virus program aimed at the Macintosh operating system, from Apple. McAfee also noted a “significant uptick” in rootkits, software that enables privileged access to a computer while hiding its presence from administrators.
McAfee’s said it expects its malware “zoo” collection will reach a record 75 million samples by the year’s end. Appoximately 12 million unique samples were taken in the first half of 2011, a 22 percent increase over 2010,
“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. “High-profile hacktivist groups have also changed the landscape by drawing a line between attacks for personal gain and attacks meant to send a message.”
Android malware surpassed that aimed at the Symbian operating system, used by Nokia. The “rapid rise in Android malware in Q2 indicates that the platform could become an increasing target for cybercriminals – affecting everything from calendar apps, to comedy apps to SMS messages to a fake Angry Birds updates,’’ McAfee said.
The good news: Spam is at historic low levels,. But, McAfee noted, the going rate for 1 million emails in the United States is $25, whereas in England 1.5 million emails are worth $100.
The Android threats pose problems to users of that operating system for smart phones, more than tablets.
The financial services industry accounted for about 40 percent of all activations of mobile devices, according to Good Technology.
A key use case or the iPad in financial services is as an alternative to a laptop for heavy content consumers or presenters, who are not heavy content creators.
In the second quarter, in all industries, there were more activations of the iPad than all Android smartphones and tablets combined, Good noted.