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F-Secure: Android Malware Has Nearly Quadrupled in the Past Year, iOS Remains Clear

F-Secure: Android Malware Has Nearly Quadrupled in the Past Year, iOS Remains Clear

While it’s no secret that Google’s Android platform is a significant target for malware, the latest findings by Finnish security form F-Secure are nothing short of horrifying. According to the firm’s Mobile Threat Report Q1 2012 (via Forbes), malware targeting Android devices nearly quadrupled between the first quarter of 2011 and March 31st of 2012.

Since its debut, Android has quickly claimed significant market share in the mobile market. Unfortunately, such popularity (amongst other factors) makes Android a lucrative target for malware authors. New families and variants of malware keep cropping up each quarter, and this trend shows no sign of slowing down. In Q1 2011, 10 new families and variants were discovered. A year later, this number has nearly quadrupled with 37 new families and variants discovered in Q1 2012 alone.

Even more concerning than the increase in malware variants for Android, however, is the increase in the actual number of malicious Android applications discovered in the same time period.  According to the report, that number has jumped from 139 counts in Q1 2011 to a staggering 3063 counts in Q1 2012. That’s a lot of malicious Android apps!

Along with the massive increase in total Android malware threats comes a significantly increased risk to users’ personal and financial security. 34 of the 37 known families of Android malware directly target the user’s financial data.

The most chilling aspect of the report, however, is that many of these trojans are so insidious that they can be extremely difficult to detect, as the malware can work around security software, making it much for difficult for victims to know they have been affected by the malware until it is too late.

The report also notes that most of the malware lies on third-party markets, and users that only download from Google Play are much safer from these threat. However, numerous instances of malware still sneak through the cracks, even on Google’s own curated app market.

Meanwhile, while malware continues to spiral out of control on Android devices (even on Google’s own app market), there still hasn’t been a single known case of malware on Apple’s iOS platform.

Say what you will about Apple’s “closed” App Store, but as I’ve stated time and time again, I (and my private data) prefer the security of the “walled garden” over the anarchy of Android’s malware-laden thorn patch. And fortunately, I am not alone.

For more details, check out F-Secure’s entire 47-page report (PDF, direct link).