Tim Cook's case against Android security may have just gotten a boost

A nuclear warning signAP PicturesAndroid remains the most targeted mobile operating system, but infection numbers are questionable.

Last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook mocked Google at the company’s WWDC developers conference, claiming it is the target of 99% of mobile malware.

Although this figure might be inflated, new research indicates that Android is the most targeted mobile operating system.

Hackers at the gates

According to security firm G Data hackers are developing nearly 5,000 new Android malware variants per day, over 50% of which are designed to steal money from their victims.

G Data revealed the Android figure in its Mobile Malware Report Q1/2015, alongside a wealth of other statistics.

Key findings include:

  • G Data discovered an average of 4,900 new Android malware variants per day during the period.
  • A total of 440,267 new malware samples were detected during Q1 2015, marking a 6.4 per cent increase to 413,871 figure recorded in Q4 2014.
  • This means G Data analysts identified a new malware sample every 18 seconds per hour during the period.
  • Financially motivated Android malware accounted for 50.3 per cent of the newly discovered variants.

The paper said the most common type of money making malware targeting Android included banking Trojans, ransomware, and SMS Trojans.

A banking Trojan is a form of malware designed to steal victims financial information.

Ransomware is a malware type that locks users out of their device and demands payment for returned access.

SMS Trojans earn money by covertly making victim smartphones send messages to premium rate numbers owned by the hackers.

G Data is one of many security companies to warn the number of malware types targeting Android is increasing.

Security firm Pulse Secure reported 97% of all mobile malware is designed to target Android in its own Mobile Threat Report in June.

Is the Android malware working and should you be worried?

Despite the wealth of malware targeting Android, the G Data report fails to answer one crucial question, is the malware working?

For years there has been an ongoing tit for tat debate within the security community about the effectiveness of mobile malware, with many feeling it is still unclear how many of the attacks actually manage to infect devices and cause harm.

Google claimed despite the wealth of malware targeting its platform only 1% of devices running Android are actually infected with malware in its April “Android Security 2014 Year in Review.” In other words, even though Android is being targeted more than other mobile platforms, the malware isn’t actually working.

Telecoms giant Verizon lent credence to this claim in its Data Breach Investigations Report, when it revealed only 0.3% of mobile devices on its network were infected with malware later in April.

It remains unclear how many malware variants G Data detected targeting other mobile platforms, such as iOS, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry OS. Business Insider has reached out to G Data for comment.

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