Mobile Malware Grew 163 Percent in 2012, Almost All of It Aimed at Android

Paul Lilly

Security reports suggests mobile malware writers are almost exclusively focusing on Android.

To the victor belong the spoils, along with everything else that comes with being the most popular kid on the block. In the mobile world, Android is clearly winning in terms of market share, and while that translates into a bigger chunk of the pie, it also means there's a big brightly lit target painted on Android's back for malware writers to take aim at. Whether or not mobile malware is truly a problem to begin with, however, is debatable.

On the surface, a new report (PDF) by NQ Mobile paints some scary numbers. For example, NQ Mobile claims it saw a 163 percent increase in mobile malware in 2012 versus 2011, and that 94.8 percent of all malware discovered was designed to attack Android (Symbian, once the top dog in mobile market share, only found itself on the receiving end of 4 percent of mobile malware).

In terms of growth, bits of malicious code designed for mobile devices is clearly on the rise, but it's not yet an epidemic. Though mobile malware grew 163 percent, that works out to 65,227 pieces of malware. Not only that, but avoiding mobile malware is pretty easy. According to NQ Mobile, the three primary methods for delivering dirty code to devices in 2012 included app repackaging, malicious URLs, and Smishing (phishing via SMS text messaging). In other words, you can remain relatively safe by not clicking links willy-nilly and only downloading apps from trusted sources.

As easy as that sounds, more than 32.8 million Android devices were infected in 2012, up almost three-fold versus 2011, NQ Mobile says.

Image Credit: Flickr (greyweed)

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