With Great Popularity Comes Great Risk: Android Attracting More And More Mobile Malware

During the global recession many markets are shrinking at an alarming rate. One that bucks that trend, and in a very big fashion, is malware for Android devices. According to the 2012 Q4 Mobile Threat Report (pdf) From F-Secure that platform accounted for 96% of all mobile malware in the last three months of the year.

(How many of you guys allow your employees to bring their own Android devices into the workplace?)

Android-malware

This figure represents a huge increase in just the last few months and can likely be explained by the still growing popularity of Android as a platform for phone and tablet users.

In comparison, threats on other platforms are virtually negligible.

Whilst this may be understandable for Symbian, for example, which saw development cease back in February, it is rather surprising to see such little interest in attacking Windows based phones.

Android-malware

A large share of Android threats comes via PremiumSMS and other similar forms of mobile malware that are designed to fleece users through the covert sending of premium rate text messages.

Further threats are broken down by type in the image below:

Threat-types

As you can see here, Trojans are rather popular and many of those have been designed to go after users’ bank account information. That should make scary reading for some of my friends at least – I know many who use Android devices and perform their mobile banking on the regularly despite having no security solution on their device whatsoever.

After trojans comes riskware. Many applications in this category will appear legitimate and will have a stated list of parameters but do, in fact, perform additional tasks that are not stated in their description, i.e. sending SMS messages, tracking users, collecting information about users and/or their phone use habits.

Also notable are monitoring tools. Some of these may be deliberately installed by those who wish to track a friend or familty member for some reason. Many, however, find their way onto Android devices by more nefarious reasons, even coming from the government, i.e. FinSpy.

Personally I found the report quite fascinating and there is far more to it than I have mentioned here. To read it yourself visit the F-Secure Mobile Threat Report Q4 2012.

If you have an Android device and still need to add some security to it then I recommend F-Secure’s mobile security as one of the better solutions.

Thanks to @F-Secure for permission to use the above images.

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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