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05 July 2012, 11:29

Report: Android malware doubled in just one month

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Zoom Trend Micro estimates that there will be nearly 130,000 Android malware samples by the end of the year
Source: Trend Micro
Malware targeting Google's open source Android mobile operating system continues to rise – according to a new report, hundreds of thousands of devices have already been infected via applications from the official Google Play store. Security specialist Trend Micro says that, in the past quarter, the number of malicious apps doubled from 10,000 to 20,000 in a single month – a big increase from the 5,000 malicious apps it identified from January to March of this year.

The company's TrendLabs threat response team found that approximately 30% of the malicious apps it encountered were disguised as popular legitimate applications; in the past, criminals have, for example, created a fake Instagram app and a fake version of the Angry Birds game. Most of these apps were designed to earn criminals money by tricking the victims into using premium rate services – such as sending text messages that can cost upwards of £5 each – or viewing mobile ads. Other malicious apps stole private data from users' devices or turned the devices into part of a mobile botnet, like the one discovered earlier this year by Symantec.

"The growth in Android malware demonstrates sustained and focused criminal interest in the mobile platform and particularly in the Android operating system," said Rik Ferguson, Trend Micro director of security research and communications. In the third quarter, the company estimates that the total number of malware samples will increase to 38,000; the fourth quarter this number is expected to rise to nearly 130,000.

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