McAfee: Mobile Security Threats Growing Dramatically

According to McAfee‘s fourth-quarter threat report, cellphone security threats grew significantly in 2010, as “a proliferation of Internet-enabled mobile devices” laid the groundwork for cybercriminals to target the increasingly popular smartphones and tablets that now thoroughly populate our world.

“As more users access the Internet from an ever-expanding pool of devices — computer, tablet, smartphone or Internet TV — web-based threats will continue to grow in size and sophistication,” the report said.

From the McAfee report:

This quarter presented some of the most interesting changes of the year. In the past three months we saw the lowest spam volumes since 2007, but at the same time we identified attacks on new devices such as smartphones using the Android operating system. Mobile malware and threats have been around for years, but we must now accept them as part of the mobile landscape, both in awareness and deployment.

According to Reuters, the prominent security software maker discovered 46% more cellphone-specific malware in 2010 than it found in 2009.

McAfee, which is being bought by Intel (INTC.O) for $7.68 billion, said it expected PDF and Flash maker Adobe (ADBE.O) to remain a favorite of cybercriminals this year, after it overtook Microsoft (MSFT.O) in popularity as a target in 2010.

McAfee describes the nature of the trend as indicative of Adobe’s widening popularity and accessibility in mobile devices as well as the escalating practice of PDF document files being used “to convey malware.”

The security gurus at McAfee were also careful to note that Google’s Android remains a huge target – a prime example was the relatively recent trojan horse “that buried itself in Android applications and games.”

Another factor dramatically affecting mobile security is “politically motivated hacking,” a practice that continues to rise and shows no sign of slowing.