Apple iOS and Android New Targets of Malware

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As computers become more prevalent, the viruses that prey on them increase as well. According to McAfee, a protection provider, malware is multiplying faster now than it ever has. In the last quarter alone, there have been 1.5 million more attacks than previously. With new technology, comes changes in the threats – botnets and ransomware are just some of the new things to watch out for.

Computers using Windows operating systems are still hit the hardest, but more and more viruses are now targeting Macs and Android systems, like smartphones, two of the emerging computer foundations.

Vincent Weafer, Senior Vice President of McAfee Labs, stated that attacks permeate every level of computer use, from home computers to business and government ones, as well as the previously unheard-of mobile market.

Flashback was a Trojan horse virus starting in 2011 that infected more than half a million Macs all over the world. Being used to immunity from malware, many Mac users were unprepared for the virus, which posed as a Flash plug-in and ended up stealing usernames and passwords from thousands of computers and websites. iOS has remained relatively safe ground, though new problems are popping up every day.

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Google continues to try and keep good security on their Android operating system, but more and more criminals are targeting the OS, especially as it becomes popular with less-computer-savvy and more susceptible users. McAfee’s report said that it is the most popular mobile operating system being targeted right now.

One big trend in the malware industry that is emerging is called ransomware. It erases personal data and can hold it hostage until the owner pays money via the internet to set it free. This is only one of the many programs that are starting to become more popular among cyber criminals.

What should you do?

Microsoft Security Essentials for PCS: One of my favorite anti-virus programs for the basic user is Microsoft Security Essentials. It’s free, easy to use, updated frequently and provides great protection from most Internet-born parasites. The fact that it’s made by Microsoft, the company that makes Windows, is a great benefit. Who is better equipped to know which Windows vulnerabilities hackers are targeting? Programmers can then integrate the fix seamlessly into Windows.

Avast! For MACS: If you just can’t get past the idea of trusting Microsoft to protect your Windows PC, or if you are running an alternate operating system, consider Avast! free antivirus. Avast is one of the highest-rated antivirus programs, according to AV Comparatives, an independent antivirus program reviewer. Avast offers both a free and a paid version, and boasts one of the fastest virus scans on the market. Avast! also uses fewer system resources when scanning, so you can continue to use your computer normally while the scan runs in the background. Anyone who has been held hostage by a seemingly endless scan that makes everything else on your system slow to a useless crawl can appreciate this benefit. Fun side note: You can select different voices to proclaim, “Ding! Avast’s virus definitions have been updated.” I am quite partial to Pirate.

Lookout Mobile for Smartphones: For the best mobile security app we’ve found, check out Lookout Mobile Security www.mylookout.com a free anti-virus and back-up solution that has received a five-star rating from CNET and PC World. It will even help you track down a lost mobile phone by showing its location on Google Maps. The premium version (available for $2.99/month or $29.99/year) adds the ability to back up photos and call history, and perform a remote wipe if your phone is stolen.

About The Author: Andrea Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, a computer repair company that specializes in on-site and online service for homes and businesses. Andrea is the writer of a weekly column, Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight. She prepares TV segments for and appears regularly on CBS, CW and FOX on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, More Good Day Portland, and CBS 13 News, offering viewers technology and lifestyle tips. See Andrea in action at callnerds.com/andrea/.