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Malicious mobile apps surge 614%

Around 73% of all known malware are FakeInstallers or SMS Trojans.

By CBR Staff Writer

Malicious mobile apps surged 614% to 276,259 between March 2012 to March 2013, compared to the same period in the previous year, according to a study by Juniper Networks.

Juniper Networks’ third annual Mobile Threats Report said that the surge in malicious mobile apps indicates the degree to which mobile devices are being increasingly targeted by cyber criminals.

The Juniper Networks Mobile Threat Center (MTC) has found that 92% of all malware attacks were targeted at Android, which is the largest used operating system (OS) by the smarphone users.

It is a massive increase in mobile malware attacks, which in March 2010 hovered around only 24%.

Juniper Networks Security Business global product marketing VP, Michael Callahan, said with mobile malware on the rise and attackers becoming increasingly clever, users and corporations need better protection for mobile.

"While on one hand the OEMs, carriers and software vendors must collaborate to develop platforms that mitigate large threats, enterprises and government organisations need to take a comprehensive look at protecting their data and networks by adopting a holistic approach to mobile security," Callahan said.

Android is said to have accounted for 67.7% of all smartphones shipped in 2012, according to the research firm Canalsys.

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Attackers are also tapping the unregulated third-party app marketplaces to spread malware, the report said.

The MTC is said to have identified more than 500 third-party Android application stores worldwide, which are highly vulnerable to mobile malware, and it has been found that about 60% of these stores are from either China or Russia.

Around 73% of all known malware are FakeInstallers or SMS Trojans, which take advantage of holes in mobile payments to make a profit.

As of June 2013, of all Android phone users, only 4% were said to be running the latest version of the OS, which provides support against 77% of the Android malware threats.

Juniper Networks found that, besides malicious apps, several legitimate free apps could pose a risk of leaking corporate data on devices.

It was also revealed that free mobile apps are three times more likely to track location and two and half times more likely to access user address books than the paid apps.

The component of free apps requesting/gaining access to account information increased to 10.5% in May 2013, up from 5.9% in October 2012.

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