Warnings over ability to 'Trojanise' Android apps
Warnings over ability to 'Trojanise' Android apps

The amount of malware targeted against Android devices has increased by 37 per cent since the last quarter.

According to the McAfee threats report for the third quarter of 2011, nearly all new mobile malware in Q3 was targeted at Android. It claimed that one of the most popular forms of mobile malware in the third quarter was SMS-sending Trojans which collect personal information in order to steal money.

Another new method of stealing user information is malware that records phone conversations and forwards them to the attacker.

Vincent Weafer, senior vice-president of McAfee Labs, said: “This has been a very steady quarter in terms of threats, as both general and mobile malware are more prevalent than ever. So far this year, we've seen many interesting yet challenging trends that are affecting the threat landscape, including heightened levels of sophistication and high-profile hacktivist attacks.”

Last year, McAfee Labs predicted that malware would reach 70 million unique samples by the end of 2011; however, due to the rapid proliferation of malware this year, it has increased this prediction to 75 million.

Research from Fortinet also found that with Android reaching a 52.5 per cent share of the global smartphone market, it accounts for the largest percentage of all mobile malware seen by its labs.

It said the number of distinct Android samples received by Fortinet in 2011 peaked at just over 50 in June, dropped in July and exceeded 200 in October. It said these samples were usually downloaded via the Android Market, either trying to pass as a legitimate application or found within legitimate applications they had infected.

Nigel Stanley, practice leader at Bloor Research, said Android is relentlessly targeted by hackers and until now, it was Symbian that was most targeted but no hacker would consider that now.

"What will be an interesting thing will be with Windows Phone 7.5, as we need to look at that. The apps for Android can be side-loaded or downloaded from an unverified marketplace when users look at cheap alternatives where apps can be Trojanised, but it is not stopping people from choosing Android, especially when you look at the problems BlackBerry had this year, so it is seen as a corporate alternative," he said.

"There will be more and more mobile malware next year, it is rising expedentially especially as phones are linked to people's bank accounts."