Mobile malware threat continues to grow

F-Secure has released its latest mobile threat report for January to March 2013. Highlights include an increase in threat families and variants of almost 50 percent over the previous quarter, and that Android is still the most targeted mobile OS.

Android threats accounted for 136 of the 149 detected during the period, the other 13 being aimed at Symbian. No threats were reported for iOS, Blackberry or Windows Mobile. The report notes a particularly worrying trend towards the commoditization of malware, either by making premium rate calls or stealing bank details. 114 out of 149 threats found were profit motivated. The authors state:

The Android malware ecosystem is beginning to resemble that which surrounds Windows, where highly specialized suppliers provide commoditized malware services. Two key examples of this trend surfaced in the first quarter of 2013 in the form of "Stels" and "Perkele" malware. Besides commoditization, targeted attacks and spam operations involving Android malware are also making strides in the mobile threat scene.

There has been an increase in targeted attacks against particular groups such as human rights activists. Our old friend the 419 scam in the form of fake job offers remains popular too. The report breaks down threats by type with Trojans being by far the most common at just over 61 percent of all those detected.

As the report notes these trends very much echo those seen on the Windows platform.

In a way, Android is experiencing the same fate as Windows where its huge market share works in both good and bad ways. Such popularity certainly translates well in terms of sales, but it also appeals to the maliciously-minded crowds. Malware authors see plenty of opportunities yet to be explored on the relatively new and growing platform.

Whilst the actual number of threats is still quite small compared to those seen for Windows, the findings do show that mobile devices are firmly in the sights of malware developers.

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