When installing new applications onto your smartphone, it’s important to be cautious. According to a study by the networking company Juniper, the increase in mobile malware rose by 614% between March 2012 and March 2013.
Cybercriminals are getting much more abundant and savvy. Instead of trying to crack into every operating system available, they’re going after the most popular one, Android.
The report was based on an analysis of over 1.85 million mobile apps across major operating systems (OS). Further research by Juniper revealed that there are approximately 276,259 malicious apps floating around, and the operating system of choice is Android, which receives 92% of all detected threats.
According to analyst firm Canalys, Android dominates the smartphone market by a surprising 60% with 900 million users, while Apple has 19% with 575 million users, and Microsoft follows with 18%.
In addition, the report explained that mobile malware for Apples iOS, which happens to be the second most popular platform, has been “noticeably absent” from its malware sample database. The reasons being that:
- Android tends to have less control over the process of releasing applications into their app store. They’re more vulnerable to malware because of the hundreds of non-Google app stores that offer almost no oversight that enables easy distribution.
- Users fail to update to the newest versions of their OS, only 4 percent of Android users run the latest OS. The continuing fragmentation of the Android ecosystem leaves users of earlier OSs less-secure versions. When Android users neglect to update their OS, they also miss out on important security updates from Google.
- A third reason is that more apps are asking users for their private data.
Juniper Networks Mobile Threat Center Director, Troy Vennon says:
“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.”
Systems Management Server (SMS) Trojans are the most common type of carrier for malware attacks as they trick users into sending a text message to a number that’s been set up by cybercriminals. Almost half of the attacks are from these SMS Trojans. Following these, fake installs account for 29% and Trojan Spy malware accounts for 19% of all malware attacks.
Applications Commonly Mimicked by Cybercriminals
The following apps are most commonly mimicked by cybercriminals; smartphone users should always be weary when downloading them:
- Google Play
- Adobe Flash
- Angry Birds
Although Android is the most commonly exploited operating system, other smartphone users should be careful as well. Apples iOS isn’t necessarily more secure then Android, and all iPhone users should still use caution when downloading applications. Additionally, smartphone users should always use caution when downloading applications of any sort, not just the above commonly mimicked applications.
According to Juniper, we can anticipate that mobile attacks will increase and become more sophisticated in the coming years. Google Play is one of the safest places to get Android apps; Amazon is also safe. The issue is with the 500-plus unknown stores with apps that are vulnerable to malware.
In order to reduce the risk of mobile malware infection, smartphone users must avoid purchasing apps from third-party app stores, or supplying private data. Mobile operating systems should also be updated to the most current version, and apps shouldn’t have the ability to access your personal and private information stored on your mobile device.
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