McAfee: Total number of malware samples reaches 670 million over past four quarters
The company’s report included a review of the 30-year history of evasion techniques used by malware authors.
McAfee Labs, cybersecurity specialist and source for threat research and intelligence, recently released findings from its McAfee Labs Threat Report: June 2017.
In terms of threat activity over the first quarter of 2017, McAfee's report noted that there were 244 new threats reported each minute, along with 301 publicly disclosed security incidents, a sharp increase of 53% over the final quarter of 2016. Of those publicly disclosed security incidents, more than half came from the health, public, and education sectors.
The number of malware samples recorded in the first quarter returned to 32 million, though the total number of malware samples increased by 22% in the past four quarters to 670 million known samples. The total mobile malware grew by 79% in the past four quarters to reach 16.7 million samples. Mobile malware doubled in growth in Asia, which contributed to a 57% increase in global infection rates.
The number of new ransomware samples rebounded in Q1, a result of Congur ransomware attacks on Android OS devices. Despite this, the number of total ransomware samples grew 59% over the past four quarters to a total of 9.6 million known samples.
McAfee's report also examined the origins of the Fareit password stealer and delved into the 30-year history of evasion techniques utilised by malware authors, which included the use of steganography, a practice of concealing messages in images, audio tracks, video clips, or text files.
Commenting on these methods, Vincent Weafer, vice president of McAfee Labs, said: "There are hundreds, if not thousands, of anti-security, anti-sandbox, and anti-analyst evasion techniques employed by hackers and malware authors, and many of them can be purchased off the shelf from the Dark Web.
"This quarter's report reminds us that evasion has evolved from trying to hide simple threats executing on a single box, to the hiding of complex threats targeting enterprise environments over an extended period of time, to entirely new paradigms, such as evasion techniques designed for machine learning based protection."
According to McAfee, malware authors typically utilise one of three types of evasion techniques; anti-security techniques to avoid detection; anti-sandbox techniques to detect automatic analysis and avoid reporting engines, and lastly; anti-analyst techniques, which are used to detect and fool malware analysts.
Fareit, which first appeared in 2011, is an infamous password-stealing malware, is believed to have been used in the high-profile Democratic National Committee breach before the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.