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Research reveals 2013 boom in mobile malware

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Significant rises in mobile malware, specifically for Android, has been detected over the past six months.

According to research from Fortinet, it has detected a 30 per cent increase in mobile malware over the last six months, with more than 1,300 new samples per day. Similar research by Trend Micro uncovered 718,000 malicious Android apps in the first half of 2013.

In its security roundup report, it said that from 509,000 spotted in the first quarter of 2013, Trend Micro predicted that the number of malicious Android apps would top the million mark before the end of the year.

In particular, data-stealing malware was on the rise, while malware had been found on the official Google Play store.

Fortinet said that it was currently tracking over 300 unique Android malware families and over 250,000 unique malicious Android samples. Axelle Apvrille, senior mobile anti-virus researcher for Fortinet's FortiGuard Labs, said: “Three years ago, mobile malware wasn't much of a concern, and most malware at the time targeting smartphones and tablets was nothing more than 'annoyware' such as the Cabir virus or scam software used to commit SMS fraud or replace icons.

“However, as devices have proliferated, so too have cyber criminals eager to capitalise on the growing user base. Our research shows the proliferation of mobile malware will not abate anytime soon.”

JD Sherry, vice president, technology and solutions at Trend Micro, said: “Due to the fractured nature of the Android network, it is very difficult for patches to reach all users in an effective time frame. In some cases, users will never get patches as vendors leave their customers at risk of attack.

“Until we have the same urgency to protect mobile devices as we have for protecting PCs, this very real threat will continue to grow rapidly. At the rate this malware is accelerating – almost exponentially – we appear to be reaching a critical mass.”

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