Android malware becoming an epidemic

G Data records rapid malware growth for smart mobile devices

02/20/2013 | Bochum 

Owners of smartphones and tablet PCs with an Android operating system are being increasingly targeted by malware authors – as shown in the current G Data Malware Report. Analyses of the second half of 2012 show that the number of new malware programs for the smartphone operating system has increased fivefold compared to the first half of 2012, reaching a maximum of almost 140,000 by the end of the second half of the year. While business with Android malware is booming, the growth of new PC malware has slowed. The perpetrators are using less mass malware and are focusing mainly on highly complex, intelligent malware instead. Overall, more than 2.6 million new malware strains for Windows systems were discovered in 2012. The G Data Malware Report 2/2012 is available online.

 

"Over the last few months, Android malware has become a growing eCrime market; we are constantly recording new variants of malicious apps. However, the perpetrators are not only relying on spreading malicious apps, but are increasingly trying to integrate infected devices into botnets. This turns smartphones into spam machines," explains Ralf Benzmüller, head of G Data Security Labs. "The growth of PC malware, on the other hand, has stagnated for the second time in a row. Criminals are increasingly focusing on developing sophisticated and complex malware, which is significantly more dangerous and can cause more damage."


On average, a new Android malware strain appears every two minutes
Android is becoming an increasingly appealing target for cyber criminals: in the second half of the year, a new malware strain for the smart operating system was discovered every two minutes. During that period, G Data Security Labs discovered almost 140,000 new malicious files – five times as many as in the preceding six months.


With regard to Android malware, the perpetrators have been mainly relying on Trojan horses as well as tried and tested eCrime strategies. This involves using manipulated copies of known apps and applications with apparently legitimate functions, such as apps claiming to be weather apps.

Number of new Android malware strains in the second half of 2012




Windows PCs: Malware growth stagnates
During the second half of the year, G Data Security Labs discovered a total of 1,258,479 new malware programs, which is 123,000 fewer programs than in the first half of the year. G Data believes that the cyber criminals are focusing their malware code production on clever and sophisticated malware, instead of mass produced malware as in the past. Overall, the German provider's security experts recorded 2,640,446 new malware programs.

Trojan horses in particular are very popular with criminals and they continue to be the top malware category. 99.8 percent of malware discovered targets Windows computers and their users.

Number of new malware programs from 2006 to 2012

 

Four predictions for the next six months

  • Android malware code will continue to gain momentum: The number of malware programs for Google's smartphone operating system will continue to grow. Perpetrators will continue to rely on Trojan horses and adware to hurt users.
  • Malware code growth will slow down: Over the next few months, cyber criminals will continue to focus on quality rather than quantity in their malware code production and use significantly more sophisticated malware programs to target unsuspecting users.
  • NFC will be targeted: More and more smartphones are equipped with NFC chips for mobile and contactless payment. Online criminals will therefore start to focus on NFC technology as a new attack vector to steal data and money.
  • Cross-platform attacks as a new eCrime trend: G Data Security Labs are expecting more cross-platform attack methods and malware programs.



CeBIT 2013: IT security hot spot in Hall 12, Booth C41
Visit us in Hanover to find out more about current dangers, the new network solutions and how companies and home users can effectively protect themselves against online threats. At CeBIT 2013, the German industry leader will be presenting its new security technologies and solutions for consumers and companies: G Data – Hall 12, Booth C41.