Mobile Malware Threats Exploded Last Year, With Android As The Main Target

Mobile malware threats increased 163 per cent last year, according to mobile security firm NQ Mobile.

Although it tracked threats across all mobile platforms, 95 per cent of the threats were on Google’s Android operating system, a result of its more open architecture. Nearly 33 million Android devices were infected in 2012, up from almost 11 million in 2011.

Of course, NQ Mobile might be said to be biased, since it is in their interest to raise awareness of the mobile malware issue. But at the very least their data points to a pressing problem for Android. 

There are three common methods for delivering mobile malware:

  • App Repackaging: This is the most popular method. Malware developers take a real app and reload it with malicious code into a third-party app market. This has become a big problem on Android, especially in countries that rely on third-party app markets. That’s the case in China where Google Play is generally unavailable to consumers and generates few downloads. 
  • Malicious URLs: Malware developers redirect users to a clone website with malicious software.
  • Smishing: Similar to email phishing, criminals try to get consumers to click on a malicious link via SMS.

Of the malware detected in 2012, 65 per cent were undesirable programs like spyware, and pervasive adware. Another 28 per cent of malware was designed to collect and profit from a consumer’s personal data, while 7 per cent was intended to make the user’s phone stop working altogether.

China had the highest prevalence of mobile malware, responsible for 25 per cent of all devices infected. The U.S. was fourth with 10 per cent of infected devices.

With the emergence of malware as a major threat in mobile, it is little wonder that mobile security accounted for 30 per cent of venture capital investment in mobile during the first quarter

Click here for a larger version of this chart.

mobile malware

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