Ransomware dominated the threat landscape last year even though file-encrypting nasties made up less than one in a hundred examples of different Windows malware during 2016.
The mode of action and damage created by file-encrypting trojans makes them a much greater threat than implied by a consideration of the numbers, according to a study by security testing outfit AV-Test.
Security firms were faced with 14 per cent fewer malware samples than in 2015 but the decrease from huge figures hardly made much of a difference in practice. The overall number of malware exceeds 640 million, according to AV-Test. In this, Windows remains the most widely attacked operating system. In 2016, seven out of ten newly programmed malware programs targeted Windows.
Malware targeting macOS grew 270 per cent last year, albeit from a low base. In 2015 there were still a moderate 819 different malware threats aimed at macOS, which increased to 3,033 samples by the end of 2016.
Android threats doubled last year with the release of 4 million new samples, which are pushed onto the market irregularly with spikes of activity throughout the year and around every three months. "The largest spike, however, occurred mid-year in June," AV-Test reports. "In that month, AV-Test systems measured extreme activity and exactly 643,476 new malware programs for Android, representing the highest number since the Google operating system was published."
Weeks later in July, Google fixed more than 100 flaws in the largest Android patching exercise to date.
AV-Test's security report, released on Monday, can be found here (PDF). ®