Security threats, five years after Intel bought McAfee

Intel Corp. recently released its McAfee Labs Threat Report 2015, marking five years since the chipmaking giant acquired the security company to complement its portfolio of products. The report is a retrospective of five years of IT security threat evolution, and how the landscape has changed since Intel purchased McAfee in 2010.

Among the more surprising findings, while the growth of mobile devices has exploded spectacularly, there have been far fewer exploits than McAfee predicted five years ago. Mobile exploit samples grew by 17 per cent in the second quarter of 2015, but actual infections dropped by one per cent worldwide, and four per cent in North America.

However, threats continued to grow on other fronts.

  • Ransomware — exploits that demand cash to free captured systems — is on the rise, with a 58 per cent increase in samples in Q2 and a whopping 127 per cent year-over-year increase. McAfee attributes the rise to fast-growing exploit families CTB-Locker and CryptoWall.
  • Botnet-generated spam continued to decline through 2015, with the Kelihos botnet remaining inactive. Slenfbot, Gamut, and Cutwail werethe Top 3 botnet exploits through Q2.
  • Every hour, 6.7 million McAfee customers were lured to suspicious URLs through e-mail links and browser searches.
  • Even more alarming, McAfee customers’ networks were exposed to more than 19 million infected files.
  • And again, every hour, seven million unwanted programs tried to install or launch on McAfee customer networks.

The August report also details three proof-of-concept reports on graphical processing units (GPUs). While most malware exploits central processing unit (CPU) hardware, specialized graphics hardware can accelerate the creation of images and evade the detection of CPU-based threat protection.

Cybercrime also continues to become big business, with evolving techniques to exfiltrate personal information — names, dates of birth, phone numbers, debit and credit numbers, account credentials and more–from enterprise systems.

Read the full report here.

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Dave Webb
Dave Webb
Dave Webb is a technology journalist with more than 15 years' experience. He has edited numerous technology publications including Network World Canada, ComputerWorld Canada, Computing Canada and eBusiness Journal. He now runs content development shop Dweeb Media.

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