Here’s some news that will surprise absolutely no one: mobile malware is on the rise. What might shock you is the rate at which it’s happening. According to Juniper Networks, threats grew a staggering 614% between March 2012 and March 2013 – yes, a single year. Unfortunately for Google, the bulk of the attacks are finding their home on Android – 92% of them all, at current count.
Army of malware protectors
Similar to what we’ve seen in years’ past with Windows, malware makers are targeting the most popular platform in order to make the most of their efforts (ironically enough, the same reason developers used to target iOS solely with their legitimate apps). As of 2012, Android accounted for 67% of the market’s smartphone shipments, and Canalys has predicted that the total number could rise to 1 billion per year in 2017. It’s clear that there’s massive potential out there for developers of all stripes – including the malicious ones.
Another thing working against Android is one of its highlights: its openness. As I wrote about last summer, this has both its upsides and downsides – freedom to control your device is always a good thing (no one likes being locked in a virtual prison), but on the other side of the coin, things like this can happen. On the upside, malware can usually be battled-against quite easily.
Interestingly, Juniper found that there exist about 500 third-party app stores for Android that have contained apps with malware, and of these, three out of every five resided in Russia or China. Three-fourths of all malware come in the form of fake installers, so it’s important to keep an eye out for those, and to warn your family about them (since it’s easy even for a veteran user to fall for them at times).
Google has made great strides in the past year regarding combating malware, but it seems like with the rate it’s increasing, more is going to have to be done. Maybe anti-virus apps on mobile platforms – or at least Android – might not be so foolish after all?