The number of smartphones and tablets suffering from mobile malware has increased by 273% in the first half of 2011 compared to the same period in 2010, a new report has revealed.
According to software company G Data’s Malware Report on current threats for Internet users and PCs, the rise is being driven by the increasing focus on mobile devices for spreading computer malware by cyber criminals.
In the first half of this year, researchers recorded on average, one new malware strain every twelve seconds, with the majority viruses being designed to enable spamming or other criminal activities from the eCrime service catalogue.
G Data claims that this is a clear indication that underground market activity is increasing.
G Data Security evangelist Eddy Willems said: ‘With mobile malware, cyber criminals have discovered a new business model. At the moment, the perpetrators mainly use backdoors, spy programs and expensive SMS services to harm their victims.
‘Even though this special underground market segment is still being set up, we currently see an enormous risk potential for mobile devices and their users. We are therefore expecting another spurt of growth in the mobile malware sector in the second half of the year.’
Meanwhile, the research also found that Android devices are now being targeted as they continue to grow in popularity. Cyber criminals are increasingly using these mobile devices to spread malware code.
In the first half of 2011, viruses identified in mobile malware included NickiBot and the manipulated app called Zsone.
NickiBot is used for spying on its potential victims by recording background noises and calls. The malware then uses a website to send this information, including GPS tracking data, to the attacker. This enables perpetrators to access personal information and determine the user's current location at any time.
Zsone, on the other hand, was spread via the Google Android Market. The Trojan works by secretly sending subscription registrations to expensive Chinese premium SMS numbers that can only be detected when victims check their bills.
G Data expects mobile malware to increase further in the second half of 2011. The firm predicts at least 2.5 million new malware strains by the end of the year.