McAfee Labs sees new threats subverting Digital Signature Validation

mcafee_logoMcAfee Labs released the McAfee Labs Threats Report: Third Quarter 2013, which found new efforts to circumvent digital signature app validation on both PCs and Android-based devices. The McAfee Labs team identified a new family of mobile malware that allows an attacker to bypass the digital signature validation of apps on Android devices, which contributed to a 30 percent increase in Android-based malware. At the same time, traditional malware signed with digital signatures grew by 50 percent to more than 1.5 million samples. Less surprising but no less daunting was a 125 percent increase in spam.

“The efforts to bypass code validation on mobile devices, and commandeer it altogether on PCs, both represent attempts to circumvent trust mechanisms upon which our digital ecosystems rely,” said Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of McAfee Labs. “The industry must work harder to ensure the integrity of these technologies given they are becoming more pervasive in every aspect of our daily lives.”

The third quarter also saw notable events in the use of Bitcoin for illicit activities such as the purchase of drugs, weapons, and other illegal goods on websites such as Silk Road. The growing presence of Bitcoin-mining malware reinforced the increasing popularity of the currency.

Weafer continued: “As these currencies become further integrated into our global financial system, their stability and safety will require both financial monetary controls and oversight, and the security measures our industry provides.”

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