Trend Micro warns of Android malware pandemic by Q4 2012

Trend Micro warns of Android malware pandemic by Q4 2012

Summary: Security firm Trend Micro warns that cyber attacks and malicious apps targeting Android smartphones are higher than previously expected.

TOPICS: Security, Android, Google

Android malware levels are rising at an alarming rate, according to antivirus maker Trend Micro

The security firm said at the start of the year, it had found more than 5,000 malicious applications designed to target Google's Android mobile operating system, but the figure has since risen to about 20,000 in recent months.

By the coming third-quarter, the firm estimates there will be around 38,000 malware samples, and close to 130,000 in the fourth-quarter.

If Trend Micro is forecasting the numbers correctly, it won't be a flu epidemic you'll be worried about come winter: it'll be an Android malware pandemic.

Google Play has also been used as a platform to distribute malicious data-stealing or privacy-infringing apps --- arguably the source of many of the malicious apps. 

ZDNet's Ryan Naraine warned this time last year that it was Google's "inability" to keep malware-ridden apps out of the then-named Android Market that has led to an Android malware epidemic, and it even today it continues to be a "source of embarrassment" for the search turned mobile giant..

Trend Micro said more than a dozen malicious apps were downloaded over 700,000 times before they were removed by Google.

The various malware specimens found often vary in what they do: some steal data, some track mobile devices through GPS, while others throw up advertisements or configure the dialler to ring premium rate numbers. 

Android has more than 50 percent of the mobile market share, according to the latest comScore figures, making the mobile platform an attractive target for malware writers.

"The growth in Android malware demonstrates sustained and focussed criminal interest in the mobile platform and particularly in the Android operating system," said Rik Ferguson, Trend Micro's director of security research and communications.

Google did not respond for comment at the time of writing because it's "office will be closed on July 4-6 for Independence Day," but will update if the search giant responds.

Topics: Security, Android, Google

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  • Android is safe

    Android platform is safe. The problem is that no one looks at the requested permissions when they put new apps, even they are warned on each install. The other problem are the spywares, they don't spread like viruses, but everyone who has access to your phone can put a "bug" on it and track your calls, texts, emails, GPS location, photos, etc.

    A good app that check permissions is Anti Spy Mobile Free - it's free of charge and you can scan your devices for well-known spywares as well as apps that have spyable permissions. A must have for every Android user -
    Terry Porter
    • Wonder why you were flagged for that?

      It seems some jealous acolytes are out and about.

      • Biased

        Yes, my opinion is biased, but spywares like Mobile Spy, Gravity Mobile Spy, etc. are a real pain nowadays, and finding out that someone is spying on your most personal device, reading all your pricate data is real shock, beleive me !
        Terry Porter
        • Well I'm your side on this

          No need for you to flag me. Just asked a question about it, that's all.
    • The Android ecosystem, however, is not safe.

      Android, as an OS, is reasonable secure but its ecosystem, as architected by Google, is amateurish at best. It invites malware and issues. They are slowly starting to address the ecosystems shortcomings (which is why Android has turned into the Win95 of the mobile industry in all the bad ways) but are not moving fast enough to recommend Android to anyone but the geek.
    • Actually,

      A very small percentage has actually been found to come from the Android Market so it is likely most will never notice.
      • Very small???

        I guess you are back to ignoring the fact that Google has being forced to remove more than 20 thousand apps from the store because they contain malware.

        And when I say FORCED, it means FORCED. Until it becomes public that an app is malware, they won't even acknowledged that it was being shown.
        • you are reading too much into this

          There were not 20,000 apps in the market, there were "over a dozen". As EntrepreNerd pointed out, it was 17 (that's 'over a dozen'). As soon as Google was made aware of them they were removed from the market.

          The 20,000 "samples" Trend Micro found were likely not 20,000 separate packages, but a much smaller number of packages, each discovered in the wild numerous times. For example there may have been 100 distinct malware packages each discovered 200 times.
  • Once again, look at the source

    Cry wolf and maybe you too will go into Google Play and buy one of the Trend Micro products (that really don't work well at all).

    sigh..... come on Zach. Could a REAL story hurt that much? Pleeeeaaaase?
  • This rock

    It has an odor that repels bigfoots of every type. It could be yours for only $139.95.
  • You need to make a correction.

    "Android has more than 50 percent of the mobile market share"

    Should be:

    "Android has more than 50 percent of the smartphone mobile market share in the US"

    Besides that, I always question the motivation of virus scanners promoting how "dangerous" a platform is and wonder how inflated thier numbers are.
    • Why limit it to US figures?

      It's a global thing.
    • We could pretend to know what market share is

      Even better, we could say, "a 50 per cent share of the mobile market." That would be better because it would relieve those who know what market share is of having to cringe every time Zack says. "...of the market share."
      Robert Hahn
  • So its nearly august

    Nearly Auguest and I haven't seen any malware of doom nor can i imagine any...
  • It is December 10, 2012 Right now and this doesn't resonate with me.

    I keep seeing all these stories about malware, but not sure if I have any on my devices, both W7 and Android 4.2. They both seem to work flawlessly. Most of my W7 programs are main stream downloaded from reputable suppliers. All of my Android apps have been downloaded from the Play Store. I seem to be out of the loop for this stuff, but since the magazine articles like to play it up, never sure what gives. It is kind of like trying to get Medical Advice from the Internet. I have a Comodo Firewall and Avast Anti Virus on my W7 machines, and Avast Anti Virus on my Nexus 10. I tend to stay with legitimate web sites for my browsing, and so far as far as I can ascertain I am not having any problems.