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Along with the increase in mobile device security threats, McAfee's recent security report also found that malware is on the rise elsewhere, but the type of malware changed in 2010's fourth quarter, with threats more closely matching certain user habits and events specific to a region.
Overall, McAfee uncovered 20 million new pieces of malware in 2010, equating to nearly 55,000 new malware threats each day. Of the 55 million total pieces of malware McAfee Labs has identified, 26 percent of it was created last year.
And while malware rose, spam e-mail hit its lowest levels in years -- representing 80 percent of total e-mail traffic in the fourth quarter of 2010, its lowest since the first quarter of 2007. Wosotowsky credited the massive drop in spam e-mail to a transition period -- or calm before the storm -- as several botnets went dormant during the holiday season when spam e-mail volumes are usually on an upward path.
Additionally, McAfee found that the increase in the types of devices that access the Internet, like tablets, smartphones and Internet TV devices, has lead to more Web-based threats and those threats will continue to grow in size and sophistication as the number of devices increases. Threats like Zeus-Murofet, Conficker and Koobface grew at a rapid pace, while phishing URLs in the form of the IRS, gift cards, rewards and social networking accounts also grew in popularity.
Cybercriminals also leveraged popular search terms to carry out their attacks. McAfee found that within the top 100 results of the top daily search terms, 51 percent led to malicious sites and on average each of poisoned results page had more than five malicious links that would perform a drive-by download. McAfee said those types of techniques and search engine abuse will likely continue into 2011.
Adobe products, too, continued to be a major malware distribution medium for cybercriminals in 2010, as malware developers exploited weaknesses in Flash and PDF technologies. Adobe attacks will also continue to evolve and grow, as more devices support Flash and PDFs, Wosotowsky said.