Mobile Malware: Faster, Better, Cheaper

For crooks, it's all about maximizing a rapidly expanding business opportunity.

November 19, 2013

Mobile malware attacks have increased more than six fold in the past year, according to the annual Mobile Threats Report from Juniper Networks.

Given the scale of criminal opportunity, Juniper observes that malware developers are using a business approach to “improve profitability through faster go-to-market strategies.”

Industry predictions show mobile phone sales of nearly 1.9 billion units this year, more than half of which will be smartphones. Tablet sales alone will likely outpace the entire personal computer market by 2015.

Juniper analyzed data from the 12 months ended in March and found the total number of malicious apps has grown to 276,000—much of it targeted at Google Android and its commanding market share.

Three quarters of that software is a type of SMS or text-based Trojan, says Troy Vennon, director of Juniper Networks’ mobile threat center.

These Trojans are usually hidden in third-party app stores that Google or another mobile platform operator doesn’t control, with much of the software written around the holiday season from October to January.

Evidence of the expanding threat includes:

Targeting for return on investment. Cybercriminals go where the opportunity is, focusing 92% of reported threats toward Android and its open ecosystem for apps and developers.

Agile distribution. More than 500 third-party application stores host mobile malware. Most have low levels of accountability that give malicious commodities a near-infinite shelf life.

System fragmentation. Attackers benefit from the fragmented Android ecosystem that keeps the vast majority of devices from receiving proven security measures from Google.

The study serves as a reminder that, in a mobile age, members can be vulnerable to malware designers working 24/7 to scam victims.

Via CUNA E-Scan