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Mobile malware getting out of control? Study claims 614% increase on year, Android accounts for 92% of total infections

Posted: , by Chris P.

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Mobile malware getting out of control? Study claims 614% increase on year, Android accounts for 92% of total infections
A terrifying report was released two days ago by the Mobile Threat Center arm (MTC) of Juniper Networks – a manufacturer of network equipment with a hefty stake in enterprise security. According to Juniper, its MTC research facility is dedicated to 'around-the-clock mobile security and privacy research'. The MTC found mobile malware growing exponentially at an alarming rate – a 614% on year increase reaching a total of just about 280,000 malicious apps.

The report goes on to state that according to their research, Android is the main culprit in the vast expansion of the nefarious activity – it grew from accounting for 24% of all mobile malware in 2010 to 92% by March this year. And if you won't take the MTC's word for it, separate studies by McAfee (February - 97%) and F-Secure (May – 91.3%) from this year seem to agree on the ballpark of total incidences related to Android.

Reading through the report, we extracted what appear to be the main factors contributing to Android's unflattering No.1 spot.

  • We seem to talk a lot about fragmentation when referring to Android, and security appears to be no exception. Google's own numbers as of June 3, 2013 reveal that only a measly 4% of Android phone users ran the latest version of the operating system. As much as 77% of the most popular types of malware intrusions could have been avoided if everybody ran the latest Android OS, the MTC claims.
  • The Juniper devision identified over 500 third-party Android app stores worldwide, known to be hosting a wide berth of nasty code. In their sample, on average 3 out of every 5 such stores originated from either China or Russia
  • According to the research, malware developers have taken a decidedly for-profit direction, turning attacks into a business. Moreover, the MTC says each successful attack can yield about $10 on average in immediate profit. How? Their sample shows 73% of overall mobile malware attacks were FakeInstallers or SMS Trojans that exploit holes in mobile payments.

Those are all pretty big statements. If you're wondering what the basis for such devastating results is, the MTC also reports that the sample they used was acquired first-hand and is based on the analysis of over 1.85 million mobile applications and vulnerabilities. The center asserts that this is one of the largest quantitative studies of its kind and completely eclipses their previous one by using 133% more data.

"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. We anticipate that similar to the evolution of PC-based threats, mobile attacks will continue to increase and become more sophisticated in the coming years." - Troy Vennon, director of the Mobile Threat Center, Juniper Networks

Don't forget, however, that some of those companies may have more carnal reasons to be overplaying the threats. Nevertheless, with multiple sources pointing in the same direction, there sure appears to be a reason to worry.

Need help processing all of this? The infographic by MTC bellow neatly summarizes some of the important findings:

58 Comments
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posted on 28 Jun 2013, 09:52 13

1. abcdefgh (banned) (Posts: 471; Member since: 29 Mar 2013)


this problem can be resolved
#switchtonokialumia

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 10:01 12

6. xperiaDROID (Posts: 5563; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)


This problem can be resolved.
#installantivirus

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 10:06 18

7. EXkurogane (Posts: 863; Member since: 07 Mar 2013)


I dont even have antivirus on my laptops, just the stock security essentials.
Best defence against malware = knowledge, and using brains.

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 10:17 7

11. BioXhaZ (Posts: 1; Member since: 28 Jun 2013)


common sense 2013 #dontdownloads**tfromrussiaXD

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 16:17 2

44. trustory (Posts: 110; Member since: 23 Jan 2013)


avg antivirus is free

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 11:42 4

27. WHoyton1 (Posts: 1627; Member since: 21 Feb 2013)


However I wouldn't switch to lumia because what's that thing unique to android.....oh android.....android is THE best OS end of....

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 12:30 3

30. number29 (Posts: 185; Member since: 25 Jan 2013)


I'd say iOS and WP are both better than Android because they are properly controlled and regulated = better user experience. You'd probably be best switching to iOS; you'll probably find you enjoy it a lot more than Android.

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 13:49 8

32. WHoyton1 (Posts: 1627; Member since: 21 Feb 2013)


Waaa waaaa ......lol I can't believe in this day and age People still believe iOS is better and more enjoyable than android....

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 15:06 5

36. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 3033; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)


Some people still live in 2007....lol

posted on 29 Jun 2013, 03:05

51. haseebzahid (Posts: 1831; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)


atlest IOS and WP8 are million times secure i wont lose cash for theifs like you might lose on android and normally phone also wont crash or freeze or panic i prefer wp8 its simple but solid OS

posted on 29 Jun 2013, 06:09

52. number29 (Posts: 185; Member since: 25 Jan 2013)


I can't believe in this day and age there are still people who are deluded into thinking Android is a good OS for mobile devices...

posted on 29 Jun 2013, 10:25

55. Whateverman (Posts: 3224; Member since: 17 May 2009)


You right, it's not just "good" many of us believe it's the BEST!

Malware free since 2009 :)

posted on 29 Jun 2013, 08:36

54. maier9900 (Posts: 272; Member since: 17 Dec 2011)


You must have like over 10 thumbs down by now.

P.A. you suck - for taking the thumbs down option out.

Switching to GSMArena! peace.

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 12:08 1

29. yyuu1000 (Posts: 152; Member since: 26 Jul 2012)


switch to andriod and get antivirus,wp probably does not even have antivirus

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 19:14

47. Roomaku (Posts: 278; Member since: 06 Feb 2012)


Yes WP doesn't probably have any antivirus programs because it doesn't need it, unlike Android. I think this all boils down to common sense though, not that Ios or windowsphone are better they are all closed vs open operating systems. None is better in my opinions just all appeal to different people.

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 20:06

49. joey_sfb (Posts: 3003; Member since: 29 Mar 2012)


android is ideal for people with common sense. anyway I use all three Android flexibility and app support make it a better mobile experience for me for now.

posted on 30 Jun 2013, 03:16

57. haseebzahid (Posts: 1831; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)


b ecause it dont have any viruses attack or and malwares in it its because you register as a developer for some cash not free which sounds more bad bad then if u paying some cash to MS you wont mess around creating virus and malwares on other hand android developers dont pay anything so they dont fear the consequences in result there are some who exploit this for their advantage so much for free B.S turns out the s**t way

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 13:59 5

33. o0Exia0o (Posts: 399; Member since: 01 Feb 2013)


This problem can be resolved by not downloading from 3rd party app stores. It is just safer to download the Google app market.

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 15:24 1

38. -box- (Posts: 3820; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)


Correct, but not all devices have access to the play store. My tablet didn't, so I was forced to use third party ones, which was difficult and I felt restricted with what I could do on the tablet because I didn't trust the apps I was downloading. Wound up getting rid of the tablet anyway.

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 22:59

50. quakan (Posts: 1199; Member since: 02 Mar 2011)


Been there. Done that. +1

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 16:07

43. javac (Posts: 102; Member since: 04 Mar 2013)


Or dont be a dumb ass when downloading apps?

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 09:53 12

2. mercorp (Posts: 971; Member since: 28 Jan 2012)


Simply surf safe sites,download apps from the safe app stores,and you're safe.

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 10:08

8. abcdefgh (banned) (Posts: 471; Member since: 29 Mar 2013)


majority being average people have no much knowledge abt these so called safe site safe apps blah blah blah

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 11:29 4

23. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)


Majority of the people who have a android phone will have access to the play store... If they looking on the Internet for free apps chances are they just don't want to pay for an app.. I understand in some countries that not everyone has access to paid apps etc but if you are downloading apps outside of googles control then you can only blame yourself.. Chances are these sites are illegal and pretty sure you don't need to be knowledgeable to know getting paid apps for free is illegal.

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 11:50

28. TheLolGuy (Posts: 483; Member since: 05 Mar 2013)


I absolutely agree. If they're downloading 3rd party apps, they should do the research and use common sense to judge if it's trustworthy.

Most of them just want free or pirated apps. Fine sure, but just be careful to not get a virus. It's an easy way to infect the cheapskates. Ironically, that free app could cost you much, much more with premium SMS spamming.

They key point to understand here is that you have no no one to blame but yourself. Except for the viruses that can infect in other ways without the user's intention. Those usually get fixed promptly, though.

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 10:14 9

10. TheLolGuy (Posts: 483; Member since: 05 Mar 2013)


That's what you get when your Android OS will reach everyone far and wide. A lot of them will be really stupid, and get viruses from something that was completely in your control. AKA "are you sure you want to do this?" *check* "are you really sure?" *still check*

You can have the most secure OS in the world, and people will still intentionally download clearly suspicious stuff. If you don't give the users a choice in blocking or accepting, then they whine about no freedom and lack of choice.

You have to provide the users the ultimate choice for what they want to do on their device. They have that right. But then they make stupid mistakes and blame Android. Granted no OS is perfect, but I can guarantee you that a lot of virus infections were caused by people who probably did get a warning first, but ignored it anyways.

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 09:58 6

3. uchihakurtz (Posts: 253; Member since: 12 Nov 2012)


Android is unsafe even in Play Store and especially on other sites. But real Android users know how to differentiate which are legit and safe apps and which aren't. Just download from Play Store, choose apps with good ratings and review, and download apps from trusted developers only.

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 09:59

4. chunk1x (Posts: 248; Member since: 25 Jun 2011)


WOW! Android has far more viruses than a $ 2.00 hooker. But at least it still cool.

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 09:59 5

5. verbalize (Posts: 87; Member since: 03 May 2013)


Lol... I will just keep my iOS .. Thank you

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 10:11 4

9. haseebzahid (Posts: 1831; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)


I say we hang Android it brings more bad then good

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 10:27 1

12. rantao333 (Posts: 254; Member since: 21 May 2013)


guess wat, google has better security, lol

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 10:34 7

13. snowgator (Posts: 3235; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)


All you can do is try hard to bring this to the attention of Android users. It does leave itself open to attacks more then the other OS's, so we - all of us- need to help users that are not "mobile geeks" be aware. Doesn't matter if we are Apple, WP, or BlackBerry fans- helping our friends, family, and coworkers be safe is important when we know how and they do not.

I sure need to lean on help to learn to cook better for my kids- I will surely help Android users enjoy their devices safely.

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 11:29 4

22. Chris.P (Posts: 292; Member since: 27 Jun 2013)


Very well said, and perfectly in tune with my very own thoughts. We can't expect everyone to be an expert or even half as interested in technology, just because we are. :)

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 10:42 8

14. PhoneArenaUser (Posts: 5482; Member since: 05 Aug 2011)


"...Android responsible for 92% of total infections"

Does Android by itself is infecting devices? No! Then why Android is responsible?

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 11:32 2

25. Chris.P (Posts: 292; Member since: 27 Jun 2013)


Well spotted! The title has been corrected. Happy surfing ;)

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 16:30

45. PhoneArenaUser (Posts: 5482; Member since: 05 Aug 2011)


Thank you, Chris. :)

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 10:45 3

15. isprobi (Posts: 204; Member since: 30 May 2011)


Android is a free OS from a company whose main business is to collect as much information about you as possible and figure out a way to make money with it. Security is at best secondary. Google's constant barrage of OS updates means it is pretty much impossible for the majority of phones to run the latest version. This fact compromises security and stability. If the average user were knoleedgable enough to avoid malicious software anti-virus makers would never have gotten started.

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 10:51 2

16. gaurang (Posts: 94; Member since: 16 Nov 2012)


android in a nutshell

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 10:51 2

17. Paradox (Posts: 123; Member since: 08 Aug 2012)


I'm sure that more than half of those apps mentioned are just apps that put ads all over your device. Anyway, all the people in the comments saying how bad android is because of this probably use a windows pc, so I don't see why they are complaining.

I've gotten malware on windows before, but I haven't on android, so there goes the theory that android is full of malware.

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 11:06

18. SOwhat (Posts: 16; Member since: 21 Jun 2013)


hangdroid got owned and now you can call this os a maldroid.

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 11:10

19. gallitoking (Posts: 4690; Member since: 17 May 2011)


Apps store I love you....

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 15:29

40. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 3033; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)


lol where have you been?

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 11:14

20. robinlim85 (Posts: 85; Member since: 03 May 2013)


if this is happened on and iphone appstore we can see stronger reaction here.....

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 11:25

21. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)


As usual you need to look at this in context, sure the amount of malwares has increased but that's only if you go to illegal sources. Stick to officially sources like play store, Amazon etc chances of getting a malwares is very slim. But as usual some people will see the title and jump to the conclusion that android is infested without actually thinking...

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 11:32

24. MrMagoo (Posts: 12; Member since: 28 Jun 2013)


Well, I think this is the price for freedom, I love the way android works because having a good android device is like having pocket computer with you all the time, but by it's nature is hard to have control over the entire platform, I think those are the few pro's about apple and iOS with a restricted control over the apps and file system

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 11:39 3

26. roscuthiii (Posts: 1838; Member since: 18 Jul 2010)


"Don't forget, however, that some of those companies may have more carnal reasons to be overplaying the threats. Nevertheless, with multiple sources pointing in the same direction, there sure appears to be a reason to worry."

What do you mean some of these comapnies? Every company in the industry as every reason to play up threats... $$$.
It's the purpose of the whole of the security industry. Play up the threats, sell your services, profit.
While working as a private security consultant I didn't tell clients their property was the most secure building in a world of sunshine and daisies. No, you tell them every possible weak point and show statistics showing how those weak points are being exploited and that the numbers of incidents is on the rise.

Story source? Juniper Networks

This Juniper Networks?http://www.juniper.net/us/en/
You seriosuly dont think someone's trying to sell you something?

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 12:44

31. Kayle (banned) (Posts: 40; Member since: 26 Jun 2013)


Dats the price you pay for being the best. Same reason Windows gets infected more. For all the stupid trolls screaming malware: It's easy to avoid, and you know it.

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 14:01

34. OnTheOtherHand (Posts: 7; Member since: 28 Jun 2013)


Of course, with recent revelations about Google, Facebook and the NSA, I'm not sure how much worse the malware is . . . .

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 14:29 1

35. androidfanboy (Posts: 162; Member since: 24 Jun 2013)


The study is flawed

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 15:21 1

37. -box- (Posts: 3820; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)


I like how the wording seems to make it like any android user can just update to the newest version of the OS.

Simple ways to protect yourself:
1) buy a device from a well-known OEM, with direct access to the OS's main library of apps ("store").
2) Avoid third-party app stores unless they are known to be trustworthy (Amazon's is OK, perhaps?). Remember apps and stores can be hacked, so...
3) Install a security program and/or task/process manager to see what is running.
4) Be paranoid. Don't give out personal info in untrustworthy apps, or websites, etc. Ditto financial info. Signing up for something less-than-trusted? Use an alias with a unique and disposable e-mail address. If you insist on mobile banking, make sure the app is secure, your connection is secure, and you fully close the app when finished
5) Don't go to websites with stuff you probably shouldn't be visiting. Don't download stuff you shouldn't. If you insist on doing that, utilize a separate device with no personal info or access to other devices on your network available to it. Again, be paranoid, cover your rear.
6) Don't lend your devices out.
7) Use difficult passwords and security protocols. 1234, password, or password1 aren't good. Something like Ph0ne5areGr34t is better. The longer a password is, the harder it is to crack. Don't use birthdays, anniversaries, etc. in your passwords.
8) For security questions for password resets, use different words than the question asks. If it asks for your mom's maiden name, don't use it, put something unrelated (but different per website and answer) but memorable, i.e. "cuddly kittens" instead of "Smith" or whatever
9) Keep your software up to date. If the software, OS, apps, etc seem to act unusually, contact the company that makes and releases it so it can be corrected: as I mentioned, stores can get hacked. Imagine someone or some group substituting a Facebook, twitter, or instagram update with their own malicious code that collects all your info - friends, family, likes, etc, - and using it for their own purposes, or maybe that update bricks the device it's installed on. Like I said, be paranoid.
10) Be aware, be prepared, be ready. Malware can happen to anyone, at any time. Remember, the device is replaceable if compromised. Have all pertinent records ready (i.e. banking info) to contact to let them know you were a victim of a malicious online attack and your accounts may be compromised. In the case of banking, have a savings account at a separate institution that you only access in person, keeping it "off the grid", sort of. Make sure that place is FDIC-insured (in the US). You may also be wise to keep some cash with you at all times, and some at your residence in a secure place (hidden fireproof safe), just to really cover your rear. That same safe can be a good place for copies of important documents.

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 15:28 1

39. -box- (Posts: 3820; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)


Oh yeah, and don't click ads. If you're interested in the product/service, go to its corporate site.

Also, backup regularly.

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 15:44 3

41. JMartin22 (Posts: 1221; Member since: 30 Apr 2013)


This problem can be solved
#dontinstallthingstoogoodtobetrueintheplaystore or
#dontbegoingtoporndomainsdownloadingvideos

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 15:46 3

42. JMartin22 (Posts: 1221; Member since: 30 Apr 2013)


Unless you really don't know what you're doing and you really don't have a clue as to using your intuitive common sense, then only you need an anti-virus. For the rest of us with a brain, we can pass on that. All those things do is run in the background leeching resources and running down battery life.

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 17:32 1

46. Jonathan41 (Posts: 529; Member since: 22 Mar 2012)


Malware is not a problem on Android. I have not met anyone with an Android that has problems with Malware.

posted on 30 Jun 2013, 15:37

58. mrblah (Posts: 455; Member since: 22 Jan 2013)


its on your phone you just dont know it!

posted on 28 Jun 2013, 19:16 1

48. Roomaku (Posts: 278; Member since: 06 Feb 2012)


This is scare tactics at its worst. Hhh have gotta be smarter. If the app seems sketchy don't download. No need to switch operating systems or bash one or say others are better.

posted on 29 Jun 2013, 07:17

53. Sondae (Posts: 190; Member since: 02 Jan 2013)


This is one scary issue but its reality.

posted on 29 Jun 2013, 15:15

56. boosook (Posts: 1031; Member since: 19 Nov 2012)


And how many of these 500 malicious stores are actually used? And by whom?

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