2011 was a thriving year for mobile malware. It increased by 155 percent across all platforms compared to the previous year, according to Juniper’s 2011 Mobile Threat Report. They’ve multiplied exponentially on Google’s Android OS targeting the most popular platform in an effort to look for the largest return on investment.
“The combination of Google Android’s dominant market share and the lack of control over the applications appearing in the various Android application stores created a perfect storm, giving malware developers the means and incentive to focus on the platform.”
From 400 samples in June, Android malware spiked to 13,302 cases in December. Google Android is the number one operating system that runs smartphones, occupying 46.9% of the market, followed by Apple, RIM, Microsoft and Symbian at 28.7 percent, 16.6 percent, 5.2 percent, and 1.5 percent respectively.
The Android Market just surpassed 10 billion apps downloaded, but not without a bevy of apps pursuing bogus transactions. There have been many cases where cyberpunks trick users into paying for counterfeit apps that would otherwise be free.
The rise of spyware
And it’s not just hackers you should be wary about these days. Even applications are leaking your info, such as your location. There are apps that initiate calls unbeknownst to the users, as well as access email, social networks, and other account info stored on your device.
Among the plethora of malware that targets mobile devices, spyware tops them all at 63 percent of mobile malware. Spyware is the most popular type of malware, stealing personal and company data. It is capable of taking total control over a mobile device without the owner knowing.
Juniper advises users not to be ignorant of these mobile threats, and be wary of outgoing application permissions. You should also talk to your IT department and service providers, as well as install a reliable anti-virus software.
Mobile security services seize an opportunity
There’s been a boon in mobile security as of late, with Lookout Labs delivering its fourth interactive app that visualizes mobile threats on a global scale. There’s also recent news of a server in Germany that hosts a mix of malware masked as Android Market apps, Opera Mini/Phone Optimizer apps, pornographic apps, app storage sites and others.
Mobile security companies are racing to addressing mobile security issues, and recently, McAfee and SAP collaborated to make Android more secure for BYOD workplaces. Norton released its latest Android security app as well.
Below is a video from Juniper Networks with recommendations for protecting your mobile life.