F-Secure: 8 out of 10 Mobile Malware Targets Android

Paul Lilly

Mobile malware on the Android platform is on the rise.

Remember Symbian? Few people actually care about the mobile platform these days, and that's evidenced by the reduction of mobile malware aimed at Symbian, which dropped from 29 percent in 2011 to 19 percent in 2012, according F-Secure's latest Mobile Threat Report (PDF) . Android, on the other hand, is more popular than it's ever been, and as a result, 79 percent of all mobile malware is targeted at Google's open source OS.

"Malware in general has a parasitic relationship with its host," says Sean Sullivan , Security Advisor at F-Secure Labs. "As old Symbian handsets continue to be replaced by those with other operating systems, especially Android, Symbian malware dies off and will probably go extinct in 2013. May it rest in peace."

F-Secure detected 301 total new threat families and variants in 2012, most of which took aim at Android. If you're rocking an Android device, you should especially be suspicious of fraudulent SMS messages, which is where F-Secure noticed a large share of the Android threats in Q4.

"21 of the 96 Android threat variants found were contributed by Premium SMS, a malware family that sends out messages to premium rate numbers," F-Secure said. "Many more Android threats employ similar tactics, some signing up the victim to an SMS-based subscription service. Messages or notifications from these numbers and services are deleted, keeping the user unaware until charges appear on their bills."

Around two-thirds of mobile malware detections in 2012 were classified as Trojans, though F-Secure expects that number to drop this year following the added security rolled into Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.

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