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Mobile Malware Targets Android

Cybercriminals target the vulnerable and popular Android mobile platform through banking Trojans. 98% of mobile malware batters Android users.

As of January 2014, Internet security firm Kaspersky reported a total of 10 million malicious Android installations packages detected in 2012-2013. The primary focus of the malware is banking Trojans while packages may focus on obtaining credit card information, log-in credentials, or causing website re-directs for phishing and pharming.

It is safe to say that the Android platform is under attack. According to Kaspersky, 98% of mobile malware targets Android, and the cybercriminal of 2014 is no longer a lone hacker. This has grown into an industry with organized criminals running their operations like businesses. A large amount of malicious software is spread through infecting legal web resources; mobile users access websites with their devices and pick up harmful code while they’re there. Another major distribution channel for mobile malware are alternative Android app stores.

Android has become the preferred target of mobile fraudsters because it is the most common mobile operating system, working across multiple platforms. The biggest competitor iOS only works on Apple devices, but Android is used on Samsung, HTC, Motorola, and numerous others. It is estimated that Android will make up 79% of new smartphone shipments in 2014, compared to 15% for iOS. Malware for Android has the potential of infecting many more users than any other mobile operating system.

Another factor is the policy difference between the Apple app store and Android’s app store. The former is much stricter, and Apple users cannot access alternative app stores without jailbreaking their phones. There are alternative app stores for Android, and even cases of malware packaged with mobile apps in the official Android app store. To make things more complicated, it’s only possible to get rid of Android vulnerabilities through updates from the device manufacturer. If a smartphone or tablet was released more than a year ago, it might no longer be supported by the manufacturer, and there might not be any patches for the security vulnerability.

Up until now, the majority of Trojans have targeted Russia and India, but Kaspersky believes focus is moving to Western Europe and the USA.

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