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Cyber criminals now stalk you through your phone

Last updated on: June 13, 2011 12:19 IST

Cyber criminals now stalk you through your phone

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Geetanjali Atri in New Delhi

With cellphone operating systems Symbian and Android becoming popular malware environment, a new report confirms mobile malicious software as the new frontier for cybercrime.

McAfee Q1 threats report also reveals that in the first quarter of 2011, spam remained at its lowest levels since 2007.

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"Even though this past quarter once again showed that spam has slowed, it doesn't mean that cybercriminals aren't actively pursuing alternate avenues. We're seeing a lot of emerging threats, such as android malware," says Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of McAfee Labs.

With its growing popularity the android device platform solidified its spot as the second most popular environment for mobile malware behind the symbian operating system.

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"The number of malware attacks on android devices found in a single month this quarter is the same as reported in the whole of year 2007," says Vinoo Thomas, technical product manager, McAfee.

McAfee Labs found that the most prominent types of android mobile malware were Android/DrdDream, Android/Drad, Adnroid/StemySCR.A and AndroidBgyoulu, which affected everything from games to applicatioin to SMS data.

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"The cybercriminals behind the Zeus crimeware toolkit have also directed attacks toward the mobile platform, creating new versions of Zitmo mobile malware for both Symbian and Windows Mobile systems," says the report.

Cybercriminals often disguise malicious content by using popular lures to trick unsuspecting users.

"Strict law enforcement and increasing co-ordination between the law-enforcement bodies and security providers are the major reasons that have pulled down the spam to its current level, which is lowest since 2007," says Thomas.

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"Four year ago, the ratio between spam mails and legitimate mail used to be 5:1, respectively, i.e. for every one legitimate message, one used to receive five spams. But now, it has reduced to 3:1," he adds.

According to the study, spam promoting phony or real products was the most popular lure in most global regions.

"In Russia and South Korea, drug spam was the most popular; and in Australia and China, fake delivery status notifications were among the most popular. But in India, lottery spam remains the most popular," informs Thomas.

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Also, the report claims significant spikes in malicious web content that corresponded with high-impact news events such as the Japanese earthquake and tsunami and major sporting events, with an average of 8,600 new bad sites per day.

Within the top 100 results of each of the daily top search terms, nearly 50 percent led to malicious sites, and on average contained more than two malicious links.


Image: Google Android phone.
Photographs: Reuters
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