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Mobile malware attacks up 614% in one year Featured

Attacks on mobile devices increased 614% between March 2012 and March 2013, compared to 155% growth a year earlier, according to new research.

A report from network security group Juniper Networks has found that attacks overall are skyrocketing and Android devices are the ones being targeted, with Android attacks as a percentage of the total number rising from 24% in 2010 to 92% in 2013.

While Symantec's Mobile Threat Report 2013 concluded that Apple’s iOS had many more reported vulnerabilities, Android is becoming an increasingly attractive target for hackers due its strong market share and open app ecosystem.

An interview with iTWire's David Heath goes into more depth here.

Malware is also getting easier to distribute, with the Juniper Networks Mobile Threats Centre (MTC) identifying more than 500 third-party “alternative” app stores globally where researchers found mobile malware.

These unauthorized app stores are proving popular for device users who jailbreak or root their phones, and looking for pirated or unsanctioned apps.

Of these alternative app stores, three out of five are in China or Russia, markets described by Juniper as 'infamous' for malware.

So, what exactly is being installed? Nearly 73% of malware are Fake Installers or SMS Trojans, which exploit holes in the nascent mobile payment systems. These threats either trick users or secretly send text messages to premium numbers set up by attackers to turn a quick profit. Privacy remains a concern with legitimate apps.

The Juniper Networks Mobile Threats Centre (MTC) is studying the types of permissions users are required to give to apps in order to install them. Building on that research, Juniper found was an increase in the number of permissions required with free applications much more likely to ask for large amounts of information.


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David Swan

David Swan is a tech journalist from Melbourne and is iTWire's Associate Editor. Having started off as a games reviewer at the age of 14, he now has a degree in Journalism from RMIT (with Honours) and owns basically every gadget under the sun.