Android surpasses Symbian as the biggest malware target this quarter

Android surpasses Symbian as the biggest malware target this quarter
Android has surged tremendously in terms of pure sales over the last year, but with the growing popularity of Google’s platform, it has also surpassed Symbian as the most targeted platform by viruses, McAfee’s Threats Report for the second quarter of 2011 summarized. Malware aimed at Android devices jumped 76% in comparison to last quarter. Symbian and Java ME remain the most attacked to date, though.

"This year we've seen record-breaking numbers of malware, especially on mobile devices, where the uptick is in direct correlation to popularity," Vincent Weafer, Senior VP of McAfee Labs, said. "Overall attacks are becoming more stealth and more sophisticated, suggesting that we could see attacks that remain unnoticed for longer periods of time. High-profile hacktivist groups have also changed the landscape by drawing a line between attacks for personal gain and attacks meant to send a message."

At the same time, the attacks are affecting all kinds of apps ranging from calendars, to comedy, SMS message services and even fake Angry Birds updates. Contrary to Apple’s firm grip on the App Store, Google doesn’t filter applications in such vigorous terms, but it does remove infected apps as we’ve already seen.

New malware is often more sophisticated as it often mimics PC viruses. Malware is also now often distributed hidden in a rootkit. A curious fact is that the email “black market” now offers email addresses for prices as low as $25 for 1 million emails.

source: McAfee (PDF) via Symbian Freak



1. ilia1986 unregistered

Yes, taco, it means that ANDROID IS BIGGER. And no, I don't give a damn that Android is less secure - because I'm not stupid enough to download malware from god-knows-what sites.

26. The_Miz

Posts: 1496; Member since: Apr 06, 2011

Wow, trying to justify that Android is like a bug net for viruses and malware.

30. PhoneLuver

Posts: 481; Member since: Jul 05, 2010

Ilia weren't you pro Apple at some stage?

2. Kingofnothing unregistered

Ilia1986, It is exactly your answer that makes android so damn scary. No matter how smart you think you are- you CAN NOT know weather you are downloading malware 100% of the time. The android market is a sewage hole with no one to clean it up because of it's desire to be open source. Good for android users they have a phone that is open source. It is more like open sores! Have fun with your antivirus software and system admin type tweaking just to get the darn thing to work the way you want it, while the battery is still charged! I will gladly use a bberry, iPhone any day over that horrible work in progress. Maybe one day they will clean it up and make it a better phone like the 3 I mentioned above- one that actually works without having to mess around with or out an antivirus program on. Maybe one day you will open your eyes and get tired of double thinking an app download because you are not sure if it's a virus! That is so sad!

4. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

It's like a Windows PC. I have had a Widows PC forever. Last time I had a virus or malware we were in the last century. All you have to have is common sense. Don't go to a website that you are not sure about, don't open emails that you don't know. Keep your virus protection up to date. Have your spam filter working & everything will be fine. The same can be said about Android. I have had an Android since the HTC Hero came out in 2009 & I have still yet to get a virus or malware. I treat my phone like a PC, because in theory these smart phones are small PC's. I won't say I will never get a virus or malware again because people are very creative in making new threats, but I have been good thus far. A little common sense goes a long way in protecting yourself. I am no different than anyone, I am just conscious about protection in both the PC world & the Android world! It doesn’t matter the size of the OS, it only matters the will of your protection. Ohh I have so many apps on my 32 GB Micro SD card & guess what not virus or malware. So it can be done, but you probably need Apple or Black Berry to think for you because you couldn’t use some common sense in picking your apps. It’s all about the effort. You make it seem like every app has malware. If you really look the number of apps that have malware on Android is VERY, VERY, small!

23. gallitoking

Posts: 4721; Member since: May 17, 2011

if you eat healthy and exercise you will live a healthy lifestyle...bla bla bla.. since when do most people have commomn sense.. SAE that is for you but most people cannot distuinguish a good or bad app, or websiter as most peple are no like you, you nered to know that.. this is a techie website so this news sound ridculous to guys like you, but the world outside PA doesnt know what you know... and is an issue.. just putting my two cents...

6. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

android is still more secure than iOS. Funny thing that you dont see iOS on that chart at all.. it must be a "magic" mistake. iOS is always the first to fall at hacking competitions (12 seconds start to info pull) where android has never fallen. having more malware is because ur a bigger target not because ur an easier target. with a worldwide OS share of nearly 50% to apples 20% world wide, its no wonder that Android has more malware programs. but as of the last article that only meant that 0.00005% of android users were actually affected.. statistically insignificant.

11. dandirk

Posts: 187; Member since: Aug 04, 2011

remix... The fact of the matter is that while iOS may be more "hackable", that threat is so minor when comparing to malicious apps. The fact that iOS screens and controls the only way to get apps on their devices, takes care of 90% of the "actual" security risks. While I don't like Apple, and will never buy one for myself (for my mom/GF sure). I will not try and knock them in a manor that realistically isn't true. Now the fact that app availability is at the mercy of Apple, and the process is more involved and costly is a negative factor, there is at least a reason for it, that consumers must judge what is more important to them, security and stricter app rules or more options higher risk.

12. ilia1986 unregistered

That's the thing, dandirk. Initially, most people will choose the former. It is after some time - 3, 4, 10, 12 months - after day by day by day seeing this: [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] That they would have preferred to choose the latter. Most people like chocolate. Some even love it more than anything else. But regardless of how much you love it - you wouldn't want to eat it and nothing else for a year, much less for two years, or for three. Human beings - rational human beings - and not iSheep like taco or Miz - like diversity. And diversity can only be achieved via Freedom. See my post below.

14. dandirk

Posts: 187; Member since: Aug 04, 2011

Personally I think you give people too much credit. I think a majority of people are just fine with limited selection. In most cases they have no clue what they are missing. Sure phone/tech/gadget nuts, options are more important but for everyone else (90%) they really could care less. They do care about crap not working, or hassles that malicious software could cause. There is a reason why HTPC are virtually unknown... because dvd/blu-ray players, are just fine for most. Why do you think Herseys chocolate is the highest selling... not because its the best. People like what they are comfortable with for the most part.

16. ilia1986 unregistered

No. People are brainwashed by Apple - that's why. Because in the age of YouTube - with videos like these: and many many more - people DO know what they are missing - those who care to find out at least. Because it's so trendy to have an iPhone, so you don't stop to think for yourself: "Is there something which is better"? We are talking about a cell phone - a device as personal as one's diary, wallet, clothing, automobile, house, etc. in 2011 people are constantly plugged to their phones. After awhile - those who are intelligent enough to look past the "OMG i can touch it with ze finger!" part begin to realize that they want more. It may be after a month, or after a year - but eventually - just like you won't live on chocolate - you will want something else. Because if you look at it - iOS 1 and iOS 5 beta 6 are not substantially different when it comes to GUI. Especially compared to Android. Android introduced widgets, live wallpapers, custom launchers, skins, themes, and whatnot. iOS introduced homescreen wallpapers.. and Folders! WOW! And that's in frikken 2010. Just a year ago. Again I'm talking about the GUIu - the part people look at 90% of their time when using their phone - because no matter how many cool apps you have - you phone still looks like that: [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] []

22. waveydavey unregistered

I am not an Apple user, but to be fair, PA had an article saying that Android users typically use the same 50 apps 90% of the time (paraphrasing, but that's the gyst). So, quality, not quantity, seems to be the driving factor there. And most certainly risk of compromised security factors into any assessment of overall quality of app selection.

17. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

the same holds true for google to a certain extent. most malicious apps ARE NOT on the android marketplace. they are found from 3rd party sites. the ones that are found on the market place are quickly removed by google. if you are downloading apps from unknown websites to try to get free versions of paid apps or apps in a lanugage u cant speak because it has a half naked chick in the image, you deserve to be at risk for malware. nuff said. the actual risk is still 0.00005% to an android customer.

18. dandirk

Posts: 187; Member since: Aug 04, 2011

I agree Andorid allows side-loading and 3rd party markets. Use at your own risk. Also this is probably a pretty low % of the reported cases. Though we don't know because they never report % of where the malicious apps come from, just that they are there. One could even say since this is a % stat, we could be talking about 10 instead of 100s of apps. I guess the reported issues with App discovery in Android is a security feature:). Yet malicious apps are still getting deployed via the official market. Though they are removed from the market they are still out there and still a greater risk that Apple Market. I guess without specific #, in addition to %, its hard to actually asses the real "risk"

28. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

in a previous news blurb they put an official number on people that have been hit by android malware. After all the sensational claims and the iDiot remarks, when you do the math it was only 0.00005% of android users affected. Thats why I keep using that number.

21. htc unregistered

What's happens if you jailbreak it

8. ilia1986 unregistered

Actually - Kingofnothing - It is exactly your answer that makes people THINK that android so damn scary. Apple WANTS you to think that. They scare you with the zillion of PC\Android Viruses and malware, saying that their macs\iphones are completely safe. Not only that is completely untrue, it is irrelevant - as about 80% of the consumer world owns a windows PC - and most of the people - the intelligent people I mean - don't get Viruses. STOP BEING AFRAID. Learn to think. Learn to defend yourself. Because FREEDOM - AKA the ability to CUSTOMIZE YOUR CELL PHONE THE WAY YOU WANT - is something that is worth much much much much much much more than some petty risk of getting a virus.

3. Kingofnothing unregistered

Oh and by the way it is really funny how you think it's because of it's popularity that there are viruses on the android mess. . Let's not forget that the iPhone and bberry were around before android and there was a huge user base between the two back then! Why we're there no viruses then? I will answer my own question on your behalf. Bcause the platforms are more secure!

5. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Then the smart phone was not what it is today. The time Black Berry & Apple were kings, smart phones where nothing, a minority. Feature phones were the mainstream. NOW the smart phone is mainstream so hackes, malware makers & every other roach out there will try to attack the largest OS out there. NO OS is safe & you need to understand that. If Apple was the number 1 OS then Apple would be the #1 target. BUT since Android is number 1, Android is the #1 target. No platform is more secure than another. Apple's iOS gets jail broken before it comes out. Talk about real secure huh!

9. ilia1986 unregistered

Kingofnothing - please read the book called "1984". Than you will understand that SECURITY is far far less valuable than FREEDOM. See definition of freedom in my previous post.

7. bossmt_2

Posts: 459; Member since: Oct 13, 2009

Android owns the lions share of the smartphone OS landscape. Smartphones are gaining ground in popularity, android also has an open OS and marketplace. All the signs add up to android being an at-risk OS. Nothing to do with iOS being more secure, and everything to do with Android being more rewarding to hack. People will start getting Malware programs on iOS, it will happen, just a matter of a hacker wanting to get in.

13. dandirk

Posts: 187; Member since: Aug 04, 2011

While popularity does have an impact in malicous targeting, this really isn't a valid in the discussion about malicious APPLICATIONS. Now if you are talking about browsing risks, then yes it is more applicable. The iphone is a VERY appealing target, we are not talking about Mac vs Windows where Apple only has a 5-8% marketshare. Iphone has what ~%20 market share. Not only that but other stats say, iphone users are willing to spend more, click on more ads. These are appealing attributes for malware makers. The bottom line is that for Malicious apps, Android is WAY more insecure. They are reactive to reported apps on their market, they support 3rd party markets (out of their control) and also allow sideloading with a simple uncheck of a box. The largest threat though by far is the reactive nature of their own market which most consumers will get their apps. Apple on contract is VERY controlling about its market, they review each app, preemptive instead of reactionary. They don't really have the risk of sideloading (well except for jailbreaks with is less then 10%, of the 20% marketshare aka ~2%). The Open Source nature of Android is also NOT the cause of higher risk of malicious apps. Sure it adds a little more risk but not much more then all the iOS api's. The cause of these risks is the Android Market pure and simple. The availability of the Android Market, openess is a benefit over Apple's but at the cost of these malicious apps.

15. dandirk

Posts: 187; Member since: Aug 04, 2011

imo the really sad fact is that Google could plug this malicious app hole for the most part and the only thing it would cost them is release time and cost in labor reviewing apps. Google wouldn't have to be restrictive in the apps put on the market, but they still could review them for malicious code. I think they have been working on other avenues, like sandboxing, adjusting the installation warning notifications so users know what is being changed, technology to universally uninstall applications (privacy/control issues). Ultimately though they have to review apps to plug this issue (if perceived to be big enough).

19. darth8ball

Posts: 520; Member since: Aug 02, 2011

If you don't have the common sense to stay away from malware, put on your cotton mouth shield, rubber gloves, cotton booties and go out and buy a closed source, give all your money to Apple, give up the choices of freedom iDiotPhone. And enjoy what smartphones were like two years ago on Android

24. gallitoking

Posts: 4721; Member since: May 17, 2011

typical fandroids.. steering the topic away when it doesnt favor Android... might as well cure diseases while you guy are at it... not one answer to the topic other than dont open what you dont know... easy for techies. but none for the people that dont know... about techs and isntead of insulting them calling them idiots , give a real advise than COMMON users can use...

25. dandirk

Posts: 187; Member since: Aug 04, 2011

I am offended. I try to be as open and level headed (aside from some bouts of internet rage:) for all platforms. BTW... isn't there an (iOS) app for that? (cure disease) lol sorry had to as an android fan. Though I did hear that if you use the "DRRROOOIDDD" bootup sound, along with the dali lama doing the electric slide, it does cure cancer.

27. gallitoking

Posts: 4721; Member since: May 17, 2011

dandirk dont be offended .. you do post some rational comments... they know who they are.. and yes there is an app for that but is 2.99 I have a Droid.. only messing the Dali lama doing the electric slide... are a cool dude .. the only thing wrong with you is .. you are enlisted in the Fandroid army,,,,

31. Kingofnothing unregistered

Let's be clear, i am not a fan of any particular company or os. I simply want a smartphone to work all the time, be easy to use without having to tweak interfaces(I actually enjoy spending my time living not tweaking my smartphone), not have to worry about the app that looks really cool but I am not sure if it's safe or not and for sure I don't want to have a ton of dea ware that can't be removed. I think all platforms have there issues (apple absolutely sucks with calendar and email app and simply are not ready for the enterprise when it comes to those 2 items). Blackberry rules ithat area. Blackberry has old sucky hardware and minimal apps. I don't know much about windows smartphones. The reason why iPhone so popular is that most people want there smartphone to just work and do whatever they want via apps. The reason why bberry was popular was the keyboard and security and calendar and email power. The reason why android is so popular for the mainstream (not the techies that want to Spend hours tweaking there phone, and believe me, not many do), is that they offer free phones and cheap phones - those are the big "sellers". That is also one of the reasons that the android app store basically only sells the top 50 apps and anything above that gets ignored android users have proven tover time they don't spend on apps. That is Because most people are scared to download anything not made by a big well known developer- how is that freedom? You said it yourself when you say, you know what to download and what not to! How is open source a good thing when you can't use it cause you are scared to just download anything you want! Let's put it another way if you had to take medicine, would you want the open source, anyone can make that pill with no checks and balances medicine , or the one that is reviewed by experts for it's safety and honesty in it's ingredients/chemicals that are in it? Android is perceived freedom let's not forget that. Keys not even get into how many patents they have infringed and how they have willingly been using java without licensing. Your open source phones are looking like more of an oppressive phone than your belief in them being the beacon of freedom! Last thought- what developer will continue to build for android with all these problems and the fact that if you ain't in the top 50 apps, your screwed, in addition to the issue of too many versions of android are putt errand then all phone makers put there own ui on top of it! There is also talk by carriers that the support cost of all these differing hardware, software and overlay ui may be more cost than it's worth especially when android users don't buy apps.your word of the day.....fragmentation.

32. Kingofnothing unregistered you can see in my post above, why I hate iOS for typing. Too many spelling errors. Blackberry is so much better for typing and for smart spelling correction. From what I have seen android is also better in that regard to apple.

33. Kingofnothing unregistered

From the following article: Android Out of the six modern smartphone operating systems, Android is clearly the least stable of them all. I have seen numerous low memory issues, force close warnings, random resets, freezes on apps and connections, and more. With so many different manufacturers, different versions of the OS out and available, and thousands of apps that are clearly not built well enough to prevent issues Android is clearly in last in the stability department.

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