Android malware attacks skyrocket in China

Mobile malware is growing at an extraordinary rate in China – with 25 times more detections of malicious programs last year than in 2011, according to official data released this week.

The number of malware samples detected on mobile devices rose to 162,981 last year, according to a report via the official Xinhua news agency carried in China Daily.

Most of this malware (82.5%) targets Android devices, according to the country’s National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team Coordination Center of China (CNCERT/CC), which revealed the data at a national network security conference this week. The figure comes from CNCERT/CC’s own data plus reports to internet security companies.

The malware spreads via smartphone app stores as well as forums and sites offering downloads of content, according to Zhou Yonglin of CNCERT/CC. China has the world’s largest population of mobile internet users, with a reported one billion users as of late 2012.

The news comes in the wake of claims from Bluebox Security this week that 99% of Android phones are vulnerable to attacks which “fool” phones into treating malicious apps as safe.

ESET Security Evangelist Stephen Cobb says in a blog post that the use of Android malware also seems to be increasing in the West – with a graph showing the number of variants in four families of Android malware rising dramatically from 2011-2012.

ESET Android stats

“You can see that the number of variants for four different families of Android malware jumped dramatically,” Cobb says. “This is a strong indicator of increased activity by those who distribute malware. These ESET numbers are global and appear in the ESET report: Trends for 2013: Astounding growth of mobile malware (PDF).”

Author Rob Waugh, We Live Security

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