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Study shows Android malware problem is worsening

by Phil Hornshaw

Malware showing up in the Android Market continues to be a major problem for the platform, according to a new study from computer security firm McAffee.

Business Insider has the story, which details McAffee’s quarterly report that shows the amount of malware on the Android platform has increased substantially and is only getting worse. Android is now the most-attacked mobile platform available, rising from the third-most attacked only three months ago.

McAffee’s results show that mobile malware on the whole has also doubled during the past two years. Because of Android’s runaway success as a platform, activating 500,000 new devices a day, it has a huge target on its back. Conversely, malware increases on Apple’s iOS platform were so small, McAffee didn’t even bother to report them.

Those findings are in line with another recent report that also finds a big jump in Android malware, according to SlashGear. That information comes from Lookout, which stated that malware threats are twice as numerous for Android users today as they were six months ago.

Here’s a quote from SlashGear’s story:

The report estimates that 500,000 users of Android were affected by malware in the first half of the year. During the first half of the year, apps with malware inside went from 80 to 400. The two most common malware attacks against Android devices are DroidDream and GGTracker. DroidDream was found in more than 80 apps and was designed to take over a device.

The kinds of attacks are also getting worse. While there has been malware in the Android Market that sends some personal information off to third parties like advertisers, GGTracker is believed to be the first piece of software that actually steals money from Android users who download apps infected with it. The software signs-up users for premium texting services ranging between $10 and $50 for each service.

Lookout’s report also shows an uptick in what’s known as “malvertizing,” which plants fake ads in front of users with the intention of taking them to infected websites, where malware can be downloaded onto their devices. Another attack method is the pushing of legitimate free apps among users, increasing the user base of those apps, and then infecting them with malware through updates.

While Google has been actively hunting malware and even went so far as to throw a remote killswitch on some infected apps a few months ago, it seems the problem is beyond whatever controls the company has in place.