The number of mobile malware threats is on the rise and cybercriminals are finding more ways to infect mobile devices, according to two studies by security firms released last week.
When the victims of malware attacks take their smartphones into work, their devices could infect the corporate network or collect corporate information through the infected device, and then send that information back to a command server operated by cybercriminals.
According to a report prepared by Juniper Networks (NASDAQ: JNPR), the number of mobile malware threats has skyrocketed, having increased 614 percent from March 2012 to March 2013.
Android is the OS of choice for malware developers, the report found. A full 92 percent of all malware detected by Juniper’s Mobile Threat Center were targeted at Android, which dominates the smartphone OS market. Attackers are also going after loosely regulated third-party app marketplaces to distribute malware and more quickly get threats on the market, Juniper noted.
In addition, cybercriminals are increasingly using invasive permissions of “free” mobile apps to install malware on victims’ smartphones and steal information, according to a study by Intel’s (NASDAQ: INTC) McAfee.
SMS scans and device routing exploits were the most common types of security threats across a variety of mobile apps. Free apps in the games and personalization categories were the most likely to carry malware, according to McAfee.
“Rooting a device lets the user have administrator privileges–unlimited control. It also makes it easy for criminals to abuse a device. For example, we found that 6 of the top 10 worst malware in China involved rooting software, and that doesn’t include the 14 different examples of DroidDream we counted,” explained the McAfee report.
In the spring of 2011, more than 50 legitimate apps containing malware were distributed through the DroidDream malware campaign. The malware stole information and communicated with a command and control server, McAfee related.
As with Juniper’s research, McAfee found that the Android platform is the most popular for malware, particularly devices running Android’s Ice Cream Sandwich operating system.
McAfee gathered the data from its Global Threat Intelligence database, from third-party researchers, and anonymously from McAfee antivirus software users.
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