Android devices have seen a 472% surge in the number of new viruses crafted to attack them since July, according to Juniper Networks researchers.
The IT analysts published a blog post online claiming that the arsenal of malicious code aimed at Android-powered gadgets has grown exponentially, with criminals hiding viruses in applications users download to devices.
According to Juniper’s Global Threat Centre, the 472% surge is a ‘staggering growth’ in mobile ‘malware’ targeting the Google-owned platform. Slightly more than half of the malicious applications uncovered were ‘spyware’ designed to steal messages, location, identity or other personal information from devices.
Most of the remaining viruses were designed to milk money from smartphone users by sending text messages to premium rate numbers without device owners knowing.
In the blog post, the company said: ‘Of the known Android malware samples, 55% act in one way or another as spyware. The other major type of attack, which make up 44%, are SMS Trojans, which send SMS messages to premium rate numbers owned by the attacker in the background of a legitimate application, without the person’s knowledge. Once these messages are sent, the money is not recoverable, and the owners of these premium rate numbers are generally anonymous.’
Juniper claims that Android devices are prime targets because the online marketplace for third-party applications, such as games, does nothing to check software for hidden threats.
Last year, Juniper reported it had found a 400% increase in Android malware from 2009 to the summer of 2010.
Last month, Samsung teamed with Juniper to create and market secure mobility and device management solutions for select Samsung handsets.