Android Malware Attacks Heighten As Hackers Hit Popular Operating Systems
by Brandy Cross
Anyone who owns an Android phone might not be happy to hear it, but Androids are more susceptible to attacks than other phones says one study. With a current 52.2% of the smartphone market, Android malware attacks are about 2% higher in the United States than even attacks against PC’s. According to a study, 8% of Android phones have been attacked by malware in the last 3 months alone, compared to only 6% of PC’s. In other countries such as Australia, statistics are worse, with more than 10% of Android phones coming under attack by Android malware.
Android Malware Surge
2012 has seen a lot of new technology come and go, and more than its share of Windows viruses as well. But something new that 2012 has seen is an insurgence of malware to devices that were mostly risk free in the past. Android malware is now at an all-time high, even topping PC threats in several countries according to a forty page threat analysis report released by SOPHOS.
Android dominated 52.2% of the smartphone market in the U.S. but nearly 82% worldwide, which makes it a prime target for Android malware makers wishing to exploit the system. While the iPhone has begun to exceed Android sales in the U.S. in the last weeks, Android still accounts for about 75% of smartphone shipments. Security firm F-Secure detected about 51,447 unique Android threats in the third quarter, up from 5,033 in the second quarter, and just 3,063 in the first quarter.
Mac Malware on the Rise
Mac, formerly known for being virus free, is no longer risk free either. As the number of Mac owners rise, so does the systems vulnerability. Despite many people believing that Mac’s can’t get a virus, this is no longer true, malware on Macs is on the rise, and here to stay. Mac requires open source hardware to allow companies to build it software, and hackers can build viruses using those same specifications. In fact, SOPHOS detected more than 4,900 Mac malware viruses currently active on OSX computers, meaning that the threat is far from small. In May of 2012, a virus known as Flashback infected more than 650,000 Macs. Another prime example of Mac Malware on the rise is the fake antivirus Mac Defender.A which poses as a virus scanner, but attacks the computer instead.
Common Android Malware
While Android Malware is now the most common exploit in the United States, many users still don’t know what it is, what it does, or even how to get rid of it. According to Sophos, the most common Android Malware acts and looks like an app, but secretly uses the phone to send text messages to premium services, or those that charge your phone for the text. The result is that the hackers can make a few, or hundreds, of dollars off of the Android phone before the user even realizes it’s there. Android Malware is often frequently seen in attacks against GPS and NFC, both of which are very popular for smartphone use.
Hackers Getting Smarter
As antivirus defense tactics rise, so are hacker malware tactics. Hackers are attacking formerly safe operating systems with Mac or Android Malware, finding better ways to utilize zero day viruses, and better ways to profit from malware before it’s removed from the system. Even Google hasn’t been able to stop the large rise in Android malware, despite their extensive link scanning and app scanning on Google Play. Google is planning to tighten its security further for Google Play, which will make it harder for app developers to upload their apps, but also more difficult for hackers to add viruses wherever they like. Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is also set to include multiple exploit mitigation features, although what they will be is not yet clear.
The best decision for most Android users is to install an Android Antivirus from either a well-known review company, or extensively read reviews about the antivirus before installing it. Good choices include AVG for Android, Norton for Android, and many more which are popular and well known.