More malware targets Android and online banking – Trend Micro Q2 report

7 Aug 2013

More malicious and high-risk Android apps, more malware when it comes to online banking, and more evolved methods for selling malware toolkits have populated the cybersecurity landscape recently, a new report suggests.

Trend Micro’s Q2 2013 Security Roundup Report reveals the number of malicious and high-risk Android apps has grown to 718,000 in the second quarter, up from the 509,000 high-risk apps found in the previous quarter.

In the 2013 forecast, Trend Micro predicts these malicious apps will exceed 1m by year’s end. In contrast, it took a decade for PC malware to amass this number.

One factor that may be contributing to this rapid increase in the number of malicious apps is the lack of security on Android smartphones and tablets.

Linda Barrabee, research director, Connected Intelligence at The NPD Group, said about 30pc of all Android smartphones and tablets in the US have any type of security app installed today.

This lack of security combined with the Android network’s systemic problems leave a large number of Android devices exposed to a risk that will continue to spread, according to Trend Micro.

“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,” said JD Sherry, vice-president, technology and solutions, Trend Micro.

“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. To fight this, Android users need to take great care when using their devices and take the simple, but effective, step of adding security software to all mobile devices.”

Internet search giant Google, the company behind the Android operating system, has recently published tips users can employ to protect their Android phones.

Online banking

When it came to online banking, malware increased 29pc from the previous quarter, from 113,000 to 146,000 infections, the Trend Micro report reveals.

The US was the top target of malware, with more than 1m instances amounting to 28pc of global compromises, followed by Brazil at 22pc and Australia at 5pc.

Trend Micro recommends online banking customers keep a close eye on their account activity and use third-party security solutions to protect themselves online.

Malware toolkits

Hackers are employing more sophisticated malicious tools which are now being sold via inexpensive, free or bundled pricing schemes, such as two-for-one packages, the report found.

These malware toolkits have been easy to access, as well, and as such increase the hazards internet users will face the remainder of this year and beyond, according to the report.

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic