McAfee’s latest Threats Report shows a 1.5 million increase in malware since last quarter. 2012 is in fact, far and away the busiest year ever for malware with an estimated total of 100 million malware samples worldwide by Q3 2012.
With the malware growth rate up nearly 100,000 per day, McAfee has identified these key variations of malware affecting everyone, which include, mobile malware, Twitter hackers web threats and specifically ransomware.
Data can sometimes be held hostage with the help of “ransomware,” also known as “ransom software.” This software infiltrates your computer when you download an infected attachment or clicking a link within the body of an email. You can also get ransomware simply by visiting the wrong website, in what is called a “drive-by.”
Once your computer or mobile device is infected with ransomware, it locks down your files to prevent you from accessing them and gives a hacker full control of your machine. Sometimes the ransomware poses as a “Browser Security” or “Anti-Adware” security product whose license has expired. Computers running Windows that are infected by ransomware are confronted by a full-screen message that resembles a Windows “error alert”.
Ransomware is not common, but it’s definitely a rising malware threat. The best way to avoid ransomware is to make sure that your computer is running the most current version of your operating system and has updated antivirus software. It’s also very important not to click on links in the body of an email or visit unfamiliar websites that may contain viruses that will attempt to inject themselves through any security vulnerabilities in your browser.
As PC malware writers master their craft, they are transferring their skills to other popular consumer and business platforms, such as Android devices. After the mobile malware “explosion” in Q1 2012, Android malware shows no signs of slowing down, putting users on high alert.
While malware most typically affects PCs due to Windows software, malware can be written for any operating system and platform. Cautioning all Mac fans they too are susceptible to malware, the McAfee Threat Report notes Mac malware’s steady growth, with more than 100 new samples over Q1 2012.
Users must understand how criminals use psychology with lures of easy money. The most effective way to protect yourself is to install a full suite of security protection on your computer so your money and your information remain guarded.
Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Evangelist to McAfee. Watch him discussing information he found on used electronic devices YouTube. (Disclosures)