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Android malware up 472% since July, unlikely to slow down

updated 11:35 pm EST, Wed November 16, 2011

Android malware becoming significant issue

A new Juniper Global Threat Center study has pointed to Android malware possibly becoming a serious issue in just the past four months. The incidence in viruses, trojans, and other strains has jumped 472 percent since July, most of which has appeared in just the past two months. About 55 percent were spyware apps scraping and sending information in the background, while 44 percent were SMS trojans that send messages to premium numbers that put the bill on the caller.

The company noted that the growth was well out of proportion to Android's gain in market share, which is true both in the US and worldwide.

Researchers argued Android itself wasn't necessarily more vulnerable but that Google's loose policies towards apps were starting to create genuine problems. As apps often weren't being closely screened and apps didn't need to be signed even without approval, it was possible for hostile apps to get through. It also wasn't a virtue of support for third-party markets, since much of this screening wasn't present in Android Market and was allowing malware in Google's own store that was usually only caught later.

Android fragmentation was also creating a problem. "Nearly 90" percent of Android phones still had vulnerabilities because they were using older versions, Juniper said. Malware writers were exploiting the lack of timely updates to compromise the devices.

Some questions remain as to the true scale of the threat. McAfee recorded 44 known malware instances by the end of the spring, which if a complete record would lead to a still small 252 instances. No known instances also exist of a truly widespread outbreak, like the Blaster worm on Windows that forced Microsoft to undergo a fundamental rethink of its security model.

The performance still creates an increasing gap in real-world security between Android and iOS. Although developers and some users have criticized Apple's policies, its requirements for code signing and closer approval has also meant that Apple so far has a near-perfect record. The only known exception is a proof-of-concept attack designed by a security expert. Apple has created a culture where would-be malware writers know they're unlikely to get through, where the opposite is true for Android, Juniper said.

It also didn't expect the Android trend to slow down and was recommending that Android users install antivirus software.

By Electronista Staff


    Comment buried. Show
  1. wrenchy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Nov 2009


    I have not seen one piece of malware

    on my Android Phone.

    That means it doesn't exist. Right?

  1. ASIMO

    Mac Elite

    Joined: May 2002



    Is a huge phone.

  1. jarod

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2005


    User type

    Android caters to the same type of user that buys Microsoft products: cheap, ignorant, and/or simply a total moron.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. DerekMorr

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2010


    malware exists on iOS

    In the form of regular apps. Have a look at this -

    This guy found that several popular apps transit login details in the clear, spy on users, etc. I'm sorry to bursy your bubble, but security is an issue for all platforms. The notion that iOS is pristine and pure but that Android is a cesspool of malware is cartoonishly wrong.

  1. Lifeisabeach

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2010


    Not seeing is not believing

    Not being aware of the malware is the ultimate goal of malware. They want to do their business while you remain clueless. And it will be especially successful on Android because of all the wannabe techies like our local troll wrenchy who think they are too l33t to get infected.

  1. joecab

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2004


    comparing Apples to Androids

    "malware exists" in no way equals "malware is prevalent"; it may exist, but on a curated store like Apple's it's extremely rare and a fraction of what's going on in Android's Wild Wild West world

  1. slapppy

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2008



    You would have to be dumb to buy an Android device. In fact if your a CIO or IT Master Of The Universe In Your Own Mind and deploy Android for your users, your even dumber than I thought. Wait the Government is testing Android for their use... oh boy!

  1. facebook_Brian

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Nov 2011


    comment title

    Where r the android fanboys? They're not here denying this report? Hahaha. If it was about apple they would be all up in here blogging. U go google with your cheap plastics malware piece of craps.

  1. SockRolid

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Jan 2010


    Android is dead in enterprise

    Add up all the Android problems (malware, fragmentation, shaky Java legal ground) and you get a big zero in the corporate market. Google doesn't care about any of those problems. All they care about is ad impressions.

    96% of Google's revenue comes from ads. And soon 96% of Android Market revenue will come from anti-malware apps. Because Google simply can't be bothered to weed out the malware.

  1. BigMac2

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Dec 2000


    Install proven anti-virus software...

    Anti-virus softwares on PC are mostly part of the problem and not a solution. I hope very much antivirus software will not become mandatory on phones like it is right now on PCs. I can't see any value of relying on third parti software to secure my OS, no one should ever pay for security software. Addressing security is way more complex than using a single piece of software, Its tie to the OS inner mechanics and any issue should be fix by the OS developer.

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