AVG’s Threat Report Highlights Emerging Trend Of Attacks Via Mobile Social Network Connections

Mobile malware.

Is it a problem you should seriously consider?


If, like me, you read security blogs, follow security trends on Twitter or just read the news, then you would probably think that Android Armageddon is on the horizon. Now, whilst I don’t necessarily think that is true right now, I do see mobile threats as a major growth area in the threat landscape. More so after chatting with Catalin Cosoi on Thursday when he explained just how mobile malware is growing at an exponential rate (and thats real samples, not proofs of concept).

Now, given that mobile malware may be an issue, just how does it get onto your Android phone?

AVG on social mobile malware

AVG Technologies, the provider of Internet and mobile security to approximately 108 million active users, today released its Q1 2012 Community Powered Threat Report. The report highlights the growing use of mobile devices to connect with social networks and how this is fast becoming a preferred method for cyber criminals to spread malware, particularly on those devices running Android.

Yuval Ben-Itzhak, Chief Technology Officer at AVG, said: “We detected a big increase in the use of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to target Android users. Cyber criminals are finding it very convenient to distribute their malware straight to a mobile device via these networks. The growth of the Android platform has been phenomenal, which has not gone unnoticed with cyber criminals who have discovered it to be a lucrative target for their malware. In 2011, Google had to remove over 100 malicious apps from the official Android market, Google Play.”

Social networks have become a key source of information and communication. Twitter now has more than 140 million active users ; and Facebook has over 845 million users , with some analysts expecting that figure to reach 1 billion this year . The result: targeting those who use Facebook is like targeting around 14 per cent of world’s population or approximately 43 per cent of global internet users. Consider also that there are over 300 million Android phones already activated, with over 850,000 Android phones and tablets added to that number each day4 , and it is clear these two trends combined result in a new threat: infecting Android devices using social networks.

Most mobile devices are tied into operator billing systems making monetization of malware a lot more effective than on traditional computer systems. All the attackers need to do is trick users to install a malicious app on their device through which they can then gather cash using the phone companies’ billing systems by utilizing premium SMS services. In many cases, this is done by charging low amounts on an infrequent basis so users don’t even notice.

Are you concerned about mobile malware?

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

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