In 2011, people were worried because malware that infected cellphones was up 155%. Now, from March 2012 to March 2013, it’s up 614%.
New forms of software and hardware are coming onto the market faster than most people can blink, and malware for these devices is keeping pace. The 614% increase in malware in the last 12 months represents an extra 276,259 malicious phone apps that could infect your mobile device. A whopping 73% of malware exploits mobile payments and sends fraudulent premium SMS messages, and more than 500 third-party app stores contain malicious applications.
The report analyzed 1.85 million apps across several mobile operating systems, including Android and iOS.
But the experts at Juniper Networks – who conducted the study – believe it doesn’t necessarily have to do with the amount of new technology that’s been hitting the market. They say that cybercriminals and malware creators are making more calculated, clever moves and are becoming more in-tune with the technology they’re infecting. Generally speaking, Android is the most popular system to target (92% or so), though plenty of malware exists for iOS and Windows as well.
Since the majority of Android users haven’t actually updated their phones to the newest free version, it’s easier to take advantage of the security flaws that exist in the previous version. Last month, Juniper said only 4% had actually bothered to update their versions of Android to the newest, most secure version. Ice Cream Sandwich and Gingerbread have many more security flaws than Jelly Bean.
Juniper Networks director Troy Vennon seems to think it’s only going to get worse. “We anticipate that similar to the evolution of PC-based threats, mobile attacks will continue to increase and become more sophisticated in the coming years.”
The more cautious you are the more likely it is that you won’t get your phone infected. For example, don’t buy third-party applications, and don’t use third-party app stores. Update your mobile devices as soon as a new version is available, and don’t allow applications – including ones you might trust – to access private information stored on your device.