2013 will see rapid growth, evolution of mobile malware, says McAfee

December 28, 2012

In its annual Threats Predications report for 2013, security vendor McAfee says the development and deployment of increasingly sophisticated “ransomware” technologies that will lock up a mobile phone or tablet, and threaten to keep it that way until a ransom is paid, will be a prominent trend in 2013.

“The harsh reality of these schemes is that users have no way of knowing if their device will be unlocked even if they do meet the perpetrator's demands,” McAfee said in a release highlighting the report from its McAfee Labs group. “Since attackers hijack the users' ability to access data, victims will be faced with either losing their data or paying a ransom in the hope of regaining access.”

As McAfee notes, the threat of so-called ransomware on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets has been limited because more users transact business on desktop PCs. “But this trend may not last; the convenience of portable browsers will likely lead more people do their business on the go,” McAfee said in its report which also noted attackers have already developed ransomware for mobile devices.

Mobile worm set for a shopping spree

If that wasn’t scary enough, McAfee’s other prediction may give you some additional goosebumps.

McAfee predicts a new mobile worm will go on a major shopping spree in 2013. The threat comes from the Android/Marketpay.A Trojan horse program that buys apps without user permission.

In 2013 McAfee predicts cyber-crooks will take this malware's app-buying payload and add it to a mobile worm so attackers won't need victims to install a piece of malware.

In addition, mobile phones with NFC-enabled "digital wallets" are an easy target for cyber-thieves. Attackers will create mobile worms with NFC capabilities to steal money via the "bump and infect" method, most commonly used in areas with dense populations like airports and malls.

McAfee, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Intel.

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