Mobile security firm Trend Micro’s recent report says the number of malware targeting Android phones went up six fold during the third quarter of 2012 (July-September) as compared to attacks during the same quarter in the previous year. The malware attacks on smartphones will only increase and get more vicious in the current year, the report says.
According to the firm, malware targeting Android phones increased nearly six fold in the third quarter compared to the same period last year. It went up from around 30,000 malicious and potentially dangerous applications to more than 1,75,000. The risks to users include espionage to gain private information from the phone, aggressive advertising which cannot be removed as well as spam. The firm has predicted that the viruses will soon be able to feed information from banking applications, putting customers at great financial risk.
The product marketing manager, India SAARC Trend Micro, Rajat Sahu, said the challenge still lies in raising awareness, as mobile users are still unwilling to accept there is a threat to their phones. The number of malicious and high-risk Android apps, at least 3,50,000 by the end of 2012, will increase threefold in 2013, broadly in line with the predicted growth of the operating system itself, he said.
In terms of market share, Android may be on its way to dominating the mobile space the same way Windows dominated the desktop and laptop arena. Malicious Android apps are becoming more sophisticated.
An ‘arms race’ between Android attackers and security providers is likely to occur in the coming year, like the one that occurred a decade or more ago over Microsoft Windows.
Trend Micro said banking malware tool and an information theft tool will emerge, which will be commoditized and sold in the black market. Criminals will add plug-ins and additional functions. ‘Black Hole’ exploit kits, currently the biggest threat to computer security, are already collecting information on mobile operating systems.
IT security player Symantec has also been gearing up to define a broad approach to provide mobile solutions for enterprises, consumers and communication service providers to manage any mobile device at any given time. The company has developed new security and management capabilities for Android and Apple iOS- the operating system for the iPhone and iPad- in addition to existing support for Windows Mobile, Symbian and BlackBerry.
Smartphone usage is growing exponentially. In addition, Android and Apple iOS devices are expected to own a verhigh share of the global market.
Observers note that a large number of Indian enterprises are increasingly allowing smartphones to connect with their corporate network. The same device is also being used to gain access to entertainment and carrier-provided services. This shift in behaviour offers scope for increase in productivity but at the same time represents new security and management challenges for three key groups-IT organizations, consumers and communication service providers.