Android And Mac Malware Surged In 2012 As Hackers Looked Beyond Windows [Report]

Look out for more Android malware in 2013.

One of the biggest reasons I switched from Windows to a Mac all those years ago was OS X’s supposed immunity to malware and viruses. I’ve quickly discovered throughout 2012, however, that my Mac isn’t as safe on the Internet as I’d been led to believe. A new report from antivirus experts Sophos today highlights that.

The company’s Security Threat Report 2013 declares 2012 to be the year of “new platforms and changing threats.” Hackers are switching their focus from Windows to other platforms, including Mac OS X. Today’s biggest target, however, is Google’s Android platform.

The 40-page reports that the biggest issue for Android users today are premium rate SMS hacks. That’s when malware is installed onto your that sends messages from your phone to premium rate numbers. While it’s at work, you know very little about it — until you get your phone bill.

Android malware has gotten so bad that during 2012, Sophos reported more security threats for Android than it did for Windows in Australia and the United States.

Security threats for Mac OS X are also on the rise. As Apple’s platform grows in popularity, so does its threat. Sophos points to the Flashback malware than infected more than 650,000 Macs during its peak, earning its creators more than $10,000 a day. While that was an extreme case — the worst we’ve seen on OS X so far — it was not an abnormality, Sophos insists.

Mac malware is quickly evolving to become more sophisticated and therefore more dangerous. In a typical week during 2012, Sophos detected more than 4,900 pieces of OS X malware on Mac computers. While Apple attempts to prevent malware — with software updates and its new Gatekeeper feature in Mountain Lion — it continues to be a real threat to its users.

So how does the future look for Android and OS X? Well, Sophos expects the increased availability of malware testing platforms will make it easier than ever for hackers to create more sophisticated exploits that slip through traditional business security systems. As a result, the company also predicts an increase in the number of successful attacks on corporate networks.

Sophos also notes that it’s worth watching out for GPS and NFC attacks in the future as these technologies continue to become more popular in mobile devices. “Malware creators are also targeting mobile devices as we experience a whole new set of operating systems with different security models and attack vectors,” the report notes.

You can check out Sophos’s full report by hitting the source link below.