The global presence of malware, software intended to damage or disable computers, has increased by 17 percent over the last three months, with the number of malware attacks against Mac OS X reaching a record high, according to a McAfee Labs report.
The study, McAfee Labs Threats Report: June 2016, revealed that this rise in malware has increased the threat potential of mobile devices being hacked to reveal personal information. Additionally, the report demonstrates cyberattacks are not exclusive to Windows machines and can impact all operating systems.
McAfee Labs, the threat research division of Intel Corporation’s Intel Security Group, is a global leader for threat research, threat intelligence and cyber security thought leadership.
The increase in malware is a result of more versions becoming available and the easily accessible nature of finding the software online, according to the report.
The report also cites the resurgence of software viruses thought to have cycled out, such as the virus Pinkslipot. This virus is capable of stealing banking credentials, email passwords and signature capabilities through malware.
The report also details the rising threat of mobile app collusion, which is when cybercriminals manipulate two or more apps to infiltrate user data and transmit location information to control servers. Reports on mobile app collusion are beginning to counter the idea that current multiapp data breaches are not likely.
Sensitive personal and financial information can be exposed as a result of mobile app collusion. Collusion can also leave apps vulnerable to other malicious activity because they give the hacker access to other areas of a mobile device. The report identified 5,000 versions of 21 consumer mobile apps threatened by app collusion.
The report outlines the potential of mobile app collusion between apps with user-enabled data sharing settings. This allows the apps to exchange information and can be intercepted by a third party. A recent academic study, Towards Automated Android App Collusion Detection, showed that 85 percent of all apps in the market can communicate with each other, and are therefore at risk for collusion.
“It should not come as a surprise that adversaries have responded to mobile security efforts with new threats that attempt to hide in plain sight,” said Vincent Weafer, vice president of Intel Security’s McAfee Labs group. “Our goal is to make it increasingly harder for malicious apps to gain a foothold on our personal devices, developing smarter tools and techniques to detect colluding apps.”
In addition to focusing on app collusion, the report outlines a 24 percent increase in the presence of ransomware. Ransomware is software designed to withhold computer information until a sum of money is paid. This software has been used in the past to hack industry sectors, such as hospitals, and hold personal information until the organization paid a monetary sum.
McAfee labs is currently helping lead the Information Sharing and Analysis Organization (ISAO) Standards Organization, which is funded by the Department of Homeland Security. The ISAO was created to share threat intelligence among government agencies and is expected to substantially complete this research in 2016.
The current solutions available to counter malware and other cyber threats include updating apps regularly and downloading antimalware screening programs. McAfee Labs also recommends forward-looking research techniques, such as creating detection technologies and opting in to information sharing guidelines from ISAO.