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Malware Attacks Against Android Jumped 3,325% During Last 7 months of 2011

by Todd Haselton | February 16, 2012February 16, 2012 10:30 am PST

Hackers crossbones

Hackers are attacking mobile devices more than ever according to a new report from Juniper Research. The firm found that the amount of mobile malware increased 155% between 2010 and 2011 and that Android is the most targeted of all mobile platforms.

In fact, Juniper Research said that attacks against Android skyrocketed 3,325% during the last 7 months of 2011. We’re not too surprised by that figure, however, since Android has the largest smartphone market share and there’s a lack of an approval process for the Android Market. Juniper Research did admit, however, that research into iOS is limited because the platform is closed. Even still, security researchers were able to sneak by Apple’s app authorization process and submit an unapproved application into the iTunes App Store.

“Fake installers,” which trick users into buying pirated applications, is the fastest growing type of malware, but spyware and SMS trojans are still the most popular attacks overall. Spyware was responsible for 63% of all malware infections while SMS Trojans comprised 36% of all attacks.

“It is vital that consumers and businesses take the necessary security precautions when using mobile devices,” Sanjay Beri, vice president and general manager of Junos Pulse Business Unit, Juniper Networks, said. “Securing mobile devices requires a combination of safeguarding connections from interception, securing data in transit from prying eyes or theft, protecting against fast-propagating malware, possessing the tools to manage devices and apps, and securing the data, usernames and passwords on them in the event that they are lost or stolen.”

As Beri notes, users  can mitigate the risk of malware by installing various security suites. Juniper Networks offers its own Junos Pulse Mobile Security Suite, Lookout is another popular competitor and we personally use NQ Mobile on our Android devices.

“The realities here are that, yes, mobile threats are on the increase,” Omar Kahn, CEO of NQ Mobile told TechnoBuffalo in a statement. “To be prepared we have to look beyond this and begin thinking more holistically about both security and privacy. As more smart devices enter the market and consumers use them not only to communicate, but also to browse and pay for things – new avenues for malware and privacy breaches will continue to open. There is clearly an increasing need for on-device and on-network security and privacy solutions.” NQ Mobile is currently the largest provider of security and privacy software and has more than 122 million registered users. NQ Mobile is able to detect and remove more than 76% of the threats currently in the marketplace.

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GLOBAL RESEARCH SHOWS MOBILE MALWARE ACCELERATING

SUNNYVALE, CA–(Marketwire – Feb 15, 2012) – Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR) released findings today from its 2011 Mobile Threats Report, showing that mobile malware has reached a new stage of maturation. The report, conducted by the Juniper Networks Mobile Threat Center — the only threat center in the world devoted exclusively to mobile security research — is one of the largest first-hand quantitative research studies of its kind.

Top findings from Juniper’s 2011 Mobile Threats Report are evidence of accelerating attacks on mobile devices:

1. There is more malware than ever before. 2011 saw a record number of mobile malware attacks — particularly to the Google Android platform.

2. Mobile malware has gotten smarter. Cybercriminals continue to hone their craft by finding new ways to exploit vulnerabilities and human behavior for profit across all mobile platforms and devices.

3. The barrier to entry is low. Data shows an evolution from sophisticated, complex and deep technical attacks to schemes that are lightweight, social and able to deliver fast profits. As mobile users download more applications than ever before, applications themselves are becoming the “killer app” for hackers and the most popular way to compromise devices.

Click to Tweet: @JuniperNetworks Global Research Shows Mobile Malware Accelerating http://bit.ly/JNPRnewz

The Juniper Networks Mobile Threat Center examined more than 790,000 applications and vulnerabilities across every major mobile device operating system to inform its 2011 Mobile Threats Report.

Additional Key Findings Include:

  • From 2010 to 2011, the Juniper Networks Mobile Threat Center identified a 155 percent increase in mobile malware across all mobile device platforms.
  • In the last seven months of 2011 alone, malware targeting the Android platform jumped 3,325 percent.
  • In 2011, spyware and SMS Trojans comprised the vast majority of malware targeting mobile devices, at 63 percent and 36 percent respectively.
  • Research into Apple iOS security remains limited given the closed nature of its platform; but in 2011, security researchers were successful in getting an unapproved application onto the Apple App Store.
  • A new attack method dubbed “Fake Installers” was the fastest growing type of malware found in 2011. Fake Installers trick victims into unknowingly paying for pirated versions of popular applications that are normally free.
  • In addition to the rising threat of malware, consumers and enterprises remain susceptible to a very low-tech risk: lost or stolen mobile devices. In the last year alone, nearly one in five users of Junos® Pulse Mobile Security Suite — Juniper’s comprehensive mobile device security and management solution — required a locate command to identify the whereabouts of a mobile device.

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Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...

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