Q1 2014 Report: Innovative New Threats Targeting Mobile OSes

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Eighty-eight percent of the new families or variants seen included some way for the attacker to make money off the user that unwittingly installs the app – for example, silently sending SMS messages to premium-rate number or charging a 'fee' for a free program.

More than 99 percent of new mobile threats discovered by F-Secure Labs in the first quarter of 2014 targeted Android users, according to F-Secure's new Mobile Threat Report. Two hundred seventy-seven new threat families and variants were discovered, all but two targeted Android -- of the two that didn't, one targeted the iPhone, and one targeted Symbian. In comparison, the same quarter last year brought 149 new threat families and variants, of which 91 percent targeted Android.

The first quarter also saw a number of firsts for Android malware. This indicates that the mobile threatscape is continuing to develop in sophistication and complexity. The quarter saw the first cryptocurrency miner, which hijacks the device to mine for virtual currencies such as Litecoin. It saw the first bootkit, which affects the earliest stages of the device's bootup routine and is extremely difficult to detect and remove. It saw the first Tor Trojan and the first Windows banking Trojan hopping over to Android.

"These developments give us signs to the direction of malware authors," said Mikko Hyppönen, chief research officer at F-Secure. "We'll very likely see more of these in the coming months. For example, mobile phones are getting more powerful, making it possible for cyber criminals to profit by using them to mine for cryptocurrencies."

Great Britain experienced the highest level of mobile malware measured by F-Secure in Q1, with 15 to 20 malware files blocked per 10,000 users there, or about one in 500 users. The U.S., India and Germany all had five to 10 malware blocked for every 10,000 users. And in Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands, two to five malware were blocked per 10,000 users.


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