Android devices most at risk from mobile malware

By Danny Palmer
07 Sep 2012 View Comments
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Mobile malware has surged this year, with Android smartphones and tablets by far the most likely to be attacked. That's according to data released by security software provider McAfee in its second quarter threats report.

The number of mobile malware samples in McAfee's database has jumped from 2,000 in 2011 to over 13,000 as it currently stands in 2012. Over 4,500 new types of mobile malware have been added in the second quarter of 2012, compared to over 6,000 in the first quarter.

Further reading

While that represents a reduction from the last quarter, 2012 shows unpredicted growth for mobile malware, with McAfee adding over 10,000 new samples to their database this year.

In the last quarter alone, McAfee found 1.5 million more incidents of malware than in the previous quarter. New threats include "ransomware", an attack that restricts access to the infected system until a ransom is paid, and "drive-by downloads", which involve malware being downloaded without knowledge of the user when viewing a website.

Android devices are by far the biggest target for mobile malware, with almost all instances of recorded attacks occuring on Google's operating system.

"During the past few quarters we've seen that the Android OS is the most popular target for writers of mobile malware," reads the McAfee report.

"This quarter was no different; practically all new mobile malware was directed at the Android platform. The mix included SMS-sending malware, mobile botnets, spyware, and destructive Trojans.

"Although in sheer numbers this quarter was not as explosive as the last, growth this year remains unprecedented."

Research by Computing shows that Android accounts for over half the smartphone market. This popularity, along with the open nature of Android Market, explains why it's a primary target for malware attacks.

The McAfee Threats Report "highlights the need for protection on all devices that may be used to access the internet," said McAfee Labs senior vice-president Vincent Weafer.

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