Android attacks increased: Juniper Networks Mobile Threat Center

Malware for the Android operating system has increased from 24 percent of all mobile malware in 2010 to 92 percent by March 2013.

According to analyst firm Canalys, Android devices accounted for 67.7 percent of all smartphones shipped in 2012 and is projected to ship more than 1 billion smartphones in 2017.

Juniper Networks says attackers are leveraging loosely regulated third-party app marketplaces to distribute malware and more quickly get threats on the market.

According to Google, as of June 3, 2013, only four percent of Android phone users were running the latest version of the operating system, which provides mitigation against the most popular class of malware measured by the MTC that makes up 77 percent of Android threats.

The Juniper Networks Mobile Threat Center (MTC) says mobile malware threats growing at 614 percent to 276,259 malicious apps.

The Juniper Networks report — tracked from March 2012 through March 2013 — says attackers are maximizing their return on investment by focusing 92 percent of all MTC detected threats at Android.

The MTC identified more than 500 third-party Android application stores worldwide, most with very low levels of accountability or oversight, that are known to be hosting mobile malware — preying on unsuspecting mobile users as well as those with jail-broken iOS mobile devices. Of the malicious third-party stores identified by the MTC, three out of five originate from either China or Russia.

73 percent of all known malware are FakeInstallers or SMS Trojans, which exploit holes in mobile payments to make a quick and easy profit. These threats trick people into sending SMS messages to premium-rate numbers set up by attackers.

Based on research by the MTC, each successful attack instance can yield approximately $10 USD in immediate profit. The MTC also found that more sophisticated attackers are developing intricate botnets and targeted attacks capable of disrupting and accessing high-value data on corporate networks.

Juniper Networks found free mobile applications sampled by the MTC are three times more likely to track location and 2.5 times more likely to access user address books than their paid counterparts. Free applications requesting/gaining access to account information nearly doubled from 5.9 percent in October 2012 to 10.5 percent in May 2013.

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