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Study: 79% of Mobile Malware Targets Android

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A new report from vendor F-Secure chronicles a dramatic rise in the amount of malware that targets Android phones. In 2010, only 11 percent of mobile malware aimed at the Google OS, but by 2012, that had climbed to 79 percent.

FierceMobile Content’s Jason Ankeny reported, “Malware targeting Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) open-source Android operating system was responsible for 79 percent of all mobile threats identified in 2012, up from 66 percent the previous year, reports digital security firm F-Secure. The overwhelming number of malware threats facing Android is a direct reflection of the platform’s global growth, F-Secure explains. As recently as 2010, Android accounted for just 11 percent of malware, while Symbian–at that time still the leading open-source smartphone OS in terms of international market share–attracted 62 percent of threats.”

ZDNet’s Zack Whittaker noted that Android’s share of mobile malware was even higher in the fourth quarter of 2012 than for the year as a whole. “Android’s share of mobile malware has increased by almost double in the last quarter, and now pegs in at 96 percent of the mobile malware market, according to a recent report by F-Secure,” he wrote. “By comparison, Symbian stands at 4 percent while Windows Mobile, BlackBerry and Apple’s iPhone all come in with an even lower share of new mobile threats and variants over the quarter. However, much of Android’s gain in the mobile threat scene can be contributed to PremiumSMS, a popular family of malware that generates profit through premium SMS sending practices, which saw 21 new variants in the past year.”

TechCrunch’s Ingrid Lunden observed, “Interestingly, F-Secure also notes that those releasing malware have become more sophisticated in their reasons for infiltrating devices. Specifically, there’s been a significant shift in terms of malware attacks becoming financially motivated over the last several years, with financial gains now well outweighing those attacks that have been made in the past. Why the shift? It may be because malicious hackers were still learning the ropes for how to infiltrate devices back in the day. Or it could be something else: The rise in financial motivations also speaks to the fact that we as a population are using our devices for significantly more transactional services — and that makes them increasing targets for attacks aimed specifically at that fact.”

And eWeek quoted F-Secure Labs security adviser Sean Sullivan, who said, “Malware in general has a parasitic relationship with its host. As old Symbian handsets continue to be replaced by those with other operating systems, especially Android, Symbian malware dies off and will probably go extinct in 2013. May it rest in peace.”

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