While New Malware Declines Overall, macOS Malware Spikes

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While New Malware Declines Overall, macOS Malware Spikes

A common theme in security reports is that month after month, there are more new threats and attacks. But that was not the case with McAfee Labs' latest threat report, which was released on April 6. The report, which provides visibility into security trends during the fourth quarter of 2016, found that while the total volume of various forms of malware is always growing incrementally, new forms of mobile malware, ransomware and even spam web addresses declined during the fourth quarter in comparison to the third quarter. Of note, however, is while some forms of malware declined, macOS malware spiked dramatically during the quarter as various forms of bundled adware attacks began to target Apple's desktop operating system.

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Volume of New Malware Declines

Every quarter, McAfee Labs reports on the number of new malware samples that it detects. For the fourth quarter of 2016, the volume of new malware detected declined from the third quarter.

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New Mobile Malware Drops in 4Q16

Looking specifically at mobile malware, McAfee Labs found a similar decline in the volume of new samples detected.

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Ransomware Samples Decrease

Not to be left out of the overall decline in new malware samples, McAfee Labs also reported that new ransomware sample detection dropped in the fourth quarter. McAfee Labs attributed the decline in new ransomware detection to a decrease in CryptoWall and Locky ransomware family variants.

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Spam Slides

While there isn't always a correlation between malware and spam volume, in the fourth quarter of 2016 there was a decline in the volume of new spam addresses detected by McAfee Labs. The 4Q16 decline stands in stark contrast to the large spam spikes reported in 3Q16 and 3Q15.

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macOS Malware Grows

In contrast with nearly all other forms of malware tracked by McAfee Labs, the volume of macOS malware grew significantly in the fourth quarter of 2016. McAfee attributes the macOS malware increase on adware bundling.

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Public Sector Is the Top Target

In terms of what attackers are going after, the public sector was the top target around the world in the fourth quarter of 2016.

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Botnets Flock to Germany

Botnet control servers can be hosted anywhere in the world to manage their fleet of infected hosts. According to McAfee Labs, 38 percent of botnet control servers observed in the fourth quarter were hosted in Germany, while 26 percent were hosted in the United States.

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