Kaspersky Lab's latest mobile threat landscape report portends more ominous news for mobile device users as the number of new malicious programs tailored for smartphones and tablets more than doubled to nearly 100,000 malicious modifications in 2013.
The vast majority of the most damaging mobile malware targeted users' money and bank cards, according to the security software firm's latest data, and more than 2,500 attempted infections by banking Trojans were blocked last year alone.
Russian mobile users were particularly hard hit, accounting for 40 percent of unique attacked users – well ahead of the India (8 percent), Vietnam (4 percent), Ukraine (4 percent) and the UK (3 percent).
But it's only a matter of time before cyberthieves move on to other fertile and more lucrative mobile hunting grounds.
"Today, the majority of banking Trojan attacks target users in Russia and the CIS," Victor Chebyshev, a virus analyst at Kaspersky Lab, said in the report. "However, that is unlikely to last for long: given the cybercriminals’ keen interest in user bank accounts, the activity of mobile banking Trojans is expected to grow in other countries in 2014."
While security software vendors are racing to provide consumers with more choice and control over their devices' security, the bad guys are finding little resistance – particularly when they target Android-based devices.
Kaspersky Lab says 98.1 percent of all mobile malware detected last year targeted Android devices – a total of 10 million malicious Android apps.
Security experts cited vulnerabilities in the Android OS architecture as well as the devices' popularity for the surge in Android banking Trojans last year. Kaspersky Lab reported only 64 known mobile banking Trojans at the end of 2012 but that number exploded to more than 1,321 unique samples by the close of 2013.