2011 - The year of the Android malware

Seems like things are only going to get worse in 2012.

If you cast your minds back to December of last year, I called 2011 the year of the Android OS. Yet as we look back at the rapidly evolving mobile landscape for that year, it has become clear that 2011 was also the year of the Android malware.

Last month a report by the Juniper Networks Mobile Threat Center showed how Android malware had increased by a massive 3,325 percent during the year, with mobile malware samples increasing from 11,138 to 28,472. A new report by security firm F-Secure [PDF] shows how over the same period, Android malware overtook both Pocket PC and Symbian malware to dominate the mobile scene.

Here's some data for you to get your teeth into:

Profit seems to be driving the increase in mobile malware. Threats motivated by profit, such as premium rate SMS malware, account for more than half of all mobile threats. Mobile users are the low-hanging fruit, ripe for the picking by scammers and fraudsters.

Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at F-Secure said in the report that, "the most credible threat is coming from attackers who want to profit monetarily with their attacks." He went on to say that, "right now we're seeing more profit-motivated mobile malware than ever before."

Seems like things are only going to get worse. It's so easy to write and distribute Android malware, and as long as users willingly install it onto their handsets, scammers and fraudsters will continue to target them.

The smartphone has replaced the PC as the primary consumer target for the bad guys because it's easier to profit from having malware on a smartphone than it is from installing malware on a PC. Moreover, with more than 850,000 new Android devices activated daily, there's a continuous supply of new victims added to the ecosystem to keep these scams profitable.

Image credit: F-Secure.