While multiple forms of malware continued to grow in 2013, some types declined, according to McAfee Labs’ fourth-quarter security report, which was released March 10.

Among key trends observed by McAfee Labs, an Intel company, is a rise in the use of signed binaries by malicious code.

The original intent of signing binaries with some form of cryptographic certificate is to help ensure the authenticity and integrity of the underlying code. By using signed binaries, attackers are now leveraging the same tools that legitimate code developers employ.

According to McAfee Labs, the use of signed binaries by malicious applications rose 52 percent year-over-year. That’s 2.3 million new malicious applications, all digitally signed, in a bid to trick users into thinking the apps are legitimate and not harmful.

The McAfee study also pointed to the continued growth of mobile malware, with 744,000 new mobile malware samples collected during the fourth quarter. Ransomware was another forms of malware on the increase; ransomware samples collected by McAfee Labs doubled in the fourth quarter. In this slide show, eWEEK examines key takeaways from the McAfee report.

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