Trend Micro's Q3 threat report: Mobile malware surged from 30K to 175K

Trend Micro's Q3 threat report: Mobile malware surged from 30K to 175K

Summary: Mobile malware rates for Q3 grossly outpace predictions, according to Trend Micro's latest report.


Trend Micro, a content security software provider, has released its third quarter roundup report, which highlighted threats surrounding mobile phones as well as zero day exploits targeting Java and Internet Explorer, among other problems.

The most notable finding, according to Trend Micro, is on the mobile front.

Bottom line: Trend Micro reps said the reality of the number of cyber threats over the last quarter have far surpassed the estimations of "even the world’s most renowned threat technologists."

Specifically, Trend Micro said that malware targeting Android increased nearly sixfold in Q3 2012 to approximately 175,000 malicious and "potentially dangerous" high-risk Android apps between July and September.


The bulk of that was found to be adware, which Trend Micro lamented that people think of adware as typically "non-threatening."

Adware can be particularly troublesome because this method can fool people so easily. Trend Micro researchers explained in the report that "most adware are designed to collect user information, a fine line exists between collecting data for simple advertising and violating one’s privacy."

Thus, it works people are so used to giving out information these days anyway for legitimate purposes that often times we don't stop to think further before giving the data out.

Trend Micro researchers explained why this unassuming attitude could be the biggest threat of all:

Smartphones are to the early 21st century what the PC was to the late 20th century–a universal tool valued for its productivity and fun factor but hated for the problems it can bring. Since smartphones are handheld computers that communicate, the threats they face are both similar and different from the PC challenges many of us are familiar with. Like the PC, many of today’s mobile malware prey upon the unwary. However, the nature of the mobile malware threat is, in some ways, very different.

Image via Trend Micro

UPDATE: Trend Micro sent us an updated copy of the Q3 report after this post was published. While clarifying that not all adware is bad, Trend Micro specified that 25 percent of the malware targeting Android is "aggressive adware."

Topics: Security, Android, Apps, Mobility

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  • Google and Apple operating systems

    This confirms that malware is a significant and increasing problem on Android and iOS.

    Ironic, when these two corporations always gave Microsoft such a hard time. Their own PR people will now be forced to admit that malware levels are proportional to the popularity of a system and have little to do with vulnerability.
    Tim Acheson
  • Malware Methodology

    As always, the devil is in the details. Most free apps in any mobile operating system pay for themselves with advertisements. Does this make them Adware and consequently Malware according the Trend Micro? Security companies always tend to overestimate threats because it is in their interest to do so.
    I will take the proven security of the Linux kernel that is used in my Android phone that is the same as is used in RHEL.
    • Want more information on your last sentence

      "I will take the proven security of the Linux kernel that is used in my Android phone that is the same as is used in RHEL."

      So security begins and ends at the kernel? There is nothing that anyone can do in the code that runs on top of the kernel that can steal your banking credentials, run userland code without requiring any actions on the user's behalf, use IRC to command and control computers to launch DDoS, etc.?

      Your proven security has nothing to do with your kernel and everything to do with popularity. Android is proof of this. Android malware is in the many 10s of thousands. WP7 malware is in the 0s.
    • proven security of the Linux kernel...

      .... only in myths and urban legends, it's just a taste of the real world:
    • In a word

      Yes. Trend typically counts apps with ads (nearly all free apps are like this) as malware. Mainly because most of these apps tend to abuse the Notification Bar. Some apps, though, do create unwanted icons and truly are malware. (At least according to their August 2012 whitepaper)
  • No surprise there, that's what you pay for being too open sourced

    'nough said.