Android, Facebook and HBGary Federal all hacked in the First Quarter of 2011

Global IT vendor Panda Security has published the first PandaLabs Quarterly Report of 2011. This quarter has witnessed some particularly intense  virus activity with the three most serious incidents including: the single largest attack against Android cell phones, the intensive use of Facebook to distribute malware and an attack by the Anonymous hacktivist group against the HBGary Federal security firm.

At the beginning of March, Android experienced the largest attack to date on their software. This assault was launched from malicious applications on Android Market. In just four days these applications, which installed a Trojan, had racked up over 50 000 downloads. The Trojan in this case was highly sophisticated, not only stealing personal information from cell phones, but also downloading and installing other apps without the user’s knowledge. Google managed to rid its store of all malicious apps, and some days later removed them from users’ phones.

With regards to Facebook, George S. Bronk, a 23-year-old from California, pleaded guilty to hacking and blackmail, and now faces up to six years in prison. Using information available on Facebook, he managed to gain access to a multitude of email accounts. Having hijacked an account, he would search for personal information he could then use to blackmail the victim. It would seem that anyone could become a victim of these types of attacks, as even Mark Zuckerberg –creator of Facebook– had his Facebook fan page hacked, displaying the status, “Let the hacking begin”.

The Anonymous cyber-activist group responsible for launching an attack in 2010 against SGAE (the Spanish copyright protection agency), among other targets, is still making headlines. The latest incident was triggered when the CEO of US security firm HBGary Federal, Aaron Barr, claimed to have details of the Anonymous ringleaders. The group took offence and decided to hack the company’s Web page and Twitter account, stealing thousands of emails which were then distributed on The Pirate Bay.

As if that were not enough, the content of some of these mails has been highly embarrassing for the company, bringing to light certain unethical practices (such as the proposal to develop a rootkit), forcing Aaron Barr to stand down as CEO.

Malware Continues to Grow…

So far in 2011, there has been a surge in the number of IT threats in circulation: in the first three months of the year, there was a daily average of 73 000 new samples of malware, the majority of which were Trojans. This means that hackers have created 26% more new threats in the first months of 2011 than in the corresponding period of 2010.

Once again, Trojans have accounted for 70% of all new malware created. This comes as no surprise as these types of threats are favored, by organized criminals, for stealing bank details with which to perpetrate fraud or steal directly from victims’ accounts. As ever, Panda advises all users to ensure that computers are adequately protected. With this in mind, Panda offers a series of free tools including Panda Cloud Antivirus and Panda ActiveScan.

For more information about Panda, visit http://www.pandasecurity.com/.

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