Share of mobile malware increases by 273 per cent

G Data publishes Malware Report on current threats for Internet users and PCs

09/13/2011 | London 

G Data is today announcing that the share of malware for smartphones and tablets rose by 273 per cent in the first half of 2011 (compared to the first half of 2010), as cyber criminals increasingly focus on mobile devices for spreading computer malware.

The research carried out by G Data SecurityLabs shows that cross-platform Trojans are dominating the malware landscape. In the first half of the year, G Data recorded on average, one new malware strain every twelve seconds. G Data believes that there is no end in sight to this malware flood.

Most of these viruses are designed to enable spamming or other criminal activities from the eCrime service catalogue. The increasing use of such malware shows that underground business is booming.

“With mobile malware, cyber criminals have discovered a new business model,” explains Eddy Willems, Security Evangelist at G Data. “At the moment, the perpetrators mainly use backdoors, spy programs and expensive SMS services to harm their victims.   Even though this special underground market segment is still being set up, we currently see an enormous risk potential for mobile devices and their users. We are therefore expecting another spurt of growth in the mobile malware sector in the second half of the year.”

Malware still on the rise
G Data SecurityLabs registered a new record in the first half of 2011, with 1,245,403 new computer malware programs. This was a 15.7 per cent increase compared to the second half of 2010. Security experts expect this growth to continue over the next six months. By the end of the year, at least 2.5 million new malware strains are expected. If the scenario displays a stronger growth, the joint numbers from the years 2006 until 2009 will be exceeded.

Diagram: Number of new malware programs per annum since 2006

Trojans still dominate the individual categories. This growth shows that the cyber crime business is going well, as it includes mostly malware that enables executing criminal services such as overload attacks. Adware is also on the rise. The number of backdoors and downloaders, on the other hand, has declined slightly.

Mobile malware is expanding
As smartphones and tablets with an Android operating system become ever more popular, cyber criminals are increasingly relying on mobile devices for spreading malware code. For the second half of 2011, the G Data SecurityLabs experts expect mobile malware to increase further.

Two examples of malicious Android code
The manipulated app called Zsone was spread via the Google Android Market. The Trojan secretly sends subscription registrations to expensive Chinese premium SMS numbers. Since the registration confirmation is also intercepted, users can only detect this scam by checking their bills.

NickiBot functionality includes spying on its victims. One variant of the malware, called Google++, is available as an application for the social network Google+ and records background noises and calls. The malware uses a website to send this information, including GPS tracking data, to the attacker. This enables perpetrators to access personal information and determine the user’s current location at any time.

Sinead O'Connor