Study: Malware, spam travel separate paths
Online security vendor McAfee recently announced the findings of a fourth quarter study that revealed the amount of malware during the period exceeded the company's previous expectations. Spam, on the other hand, showed a steady decline during the study period.
According to the research, more than 75 million instances of malware occurred during the fourth quarter of 2011, with a key driver being the rapid use of mobile attacks, which reached an all-time high. The Android operating system was targeted the most out of any mobile OS.
McAfee senior vice president Vincent Weafer noted that 2011 was a year in which cyberattacks continued to evolve on a broader scale.
"Increasingly, we’ve seen that no organization, platform or device is immune to the increasingly sophisticated and targeted threats," Weafer said. "On a global basis, we are conducting more of our personal and business transactions through mobile devices, and this is creating new security risks and challenges in how we safeguard our commercial and personal data."
The McAfee study also indicated that the number of compromised websites increased from 6,500 per day in the third quarter of 2011 to 9,300 sites per day in the fourth quarter. Many of the vulnerabilities were measured in the United States, Canada, Germany, South Korea and the Netherlands. North America accounted for more than 73 percent of all malicious content studied during the quarter.
There does appear to be a silver lining in the study. According to the security vendor, spam declined in 2011 and reached its lowest point in years.
"Overall botnet growth rebounded in November and December after falling since August, with Brazil, Columbia, India, Spain and the United States all seeing significant increases," the company stated. "Germany, Indonesia and Russia declined. Of the botnets, Cutwail continues to reign supreme, while Lethic has been on a steady decline since last quarter. Grum made a significant comeback after a long decline, surpassing Bobax and Lethic by the end of Q4."
As companies work to defend against myriad cyberattacks, the global security market is expected to grow in the near future. According to market research firm Gartner, worldwide spending for these solutions surpassed $35 billion in 2011 and is projected to exceed $49 billion by 2015. North American organizations will increase their security expenses from $14.6 billion this year to $19 billion by 2015, according to Gartner.