Mobile malware growing at rate of 614%

News Article - Thursday, 27 June 2013 11:26

By: Kerry Butters Category: Security

According to the third annual Mobile Threats Report from Juniper Networks, mobile malware threats have grown a huge 614% in the period March 2012 to March 2013.

This shows that the "rapid growth and evolution of mobile malware” is swiftly becoming a highly profitable business for cybercriminals. There are now 276,259 malicious apps in total known to be available and malware writers are increasingly behaving like profit-motivated businesses.

92% of the malware picked up by Juniper Networks Mobile Threat Centre (MTC) targeted Android devices and according to analysts at Canalys , these devices accounted for 67.7% of the overall smartphone market in 2012.

This shows that attackers are responding to high growth opportunities, the report says, with Android malware growing at a "staggering rate” since 2010. The MTC found more than 500 third-party Android app stores globally, with the majority based in China or Russia and these prey mostly on Android devices, although jail-broken iOS devices can also be affected.

73% of all known malware exploit holes in mobile payments in order to make a quick and easy profit, with each successful attack yielding around $10 immediately. The MTC also found that more sophisticated attackers are developing "intricate botnets” which are designed to attack corporate networks.

"There's no doubt mobility will continue to be a pervasive and disruptive force across every industry. We have found that it has created an easy business opportunity for malware developers who are becoming savvy in their approach to quickly turn profits in a rapidly growing market. We anticipate that similar to the evolution of PC-based threats, mobile attacks will continue to increase and become more sophisticated in the coming years," said Troy Vennon, director of the Mobile Threat Centre.

According to the report, the "fragmented Android ecosystem” exposes users to new threats due to the lack of security updates that the vast majority of devices can receive. As of June 3 this year, Google reported that only 4% of Android phones were running the latest version of the OS.

In addition to malware, it was also found that several free apps posed a risk of leaking corporate data on devices, as free apps were found to be three times more likely to track location than their paid counterparts.

"With mobile malware on the rise and attackers becoming increasingly clever, we need better protection for mobile users and corporations. While on one hand the OEMs, carriers and software vendors must collaborate to develop platforms that mitigate large threats, enterprises and government organizations need to take a comprehensive look at protecting their data and networks by adopting a holistic approach to mobile security," said Michael Callahan, vice president of global product marketing for the Security Business, Juniper Networks.

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