There continues to be an increase of Android developed malware in an attempt to turn a profit; this, according to data and research of more than 2.5 million mobile apps gathered by the Pulse Secure Mobile Threat Center research facility. The company’s recently released 2014 Threat Report shows that nearly one million unique malicious applications were produced—a 391% increase from 2013 alone.
Additionally, the Mobile Threat Center reported a significant growth in Android malware, which currently makes up 97% of all mobile malware developed. In 2014 alone, there were 1,268 known families of Android malware—an increase of 464 from 2013 and 1,030 from 2012.
The ability to take profit from an end user with SMS premium services or ad networks is a capability of each of the top 10 malware threats identified in 2014, with the overwhelming majority of Android malware being developed and distributed in unregulated third party app stores in the Middle East and Asia.
“A perfect storm of unsecure, out-of-date, low-end devices connecting to popular third party app stores in densely populated areas, that are encountering one malicious application in every 20 applications being browsed and downloaded, now exists in the Android ecosystem,” states the report.
However, it also goes on to say that Google has gone to great lengths to mitigate Android threats by acquiring several different technologies and building a background review process for applications. According to Pulse Secure, the Android Play Store is almost entirely free of malicious applications and the Android Security Team continues to work to make it more difficult for malicious applications to get into the ecosystem.
Still, that does not lessen the need for users or businesses should to be ever vigilant. In addition, Apple devices are not immune either. The report points out that it is difficult, but possible to get malicious applications through the rigorous review process that guards the walls of the Apple App Store, but the process has remained elusive enough that average malware developers are not interested in doing the “heavy lifting” to get their malicious apps into the “walled garden.”
iOS is still considered to be secure, from a malware perspective, when users remain download from the official App Store, however, there were four iOS targeted attacks in 2014 according to the report, albeit most went after jailbroken devices. Additionally, WireLurker is the first example of a non-jailbroken iOS device being infected by tethering to an infected Mac device.
The study also shows that corporate networks and enterprise environments are attractive targets to global cyber thieves. Criminal organizations have expanded their revenue streams by building networks of code, and app developers that target both consumers and enterprises.
In many cases, companies have become easier targets due to BYOD. And though organizations have attempted to embrace personal device use through MDM suites or other solution platforms, they are being met with resistance from users who don’t want to fall under the control of enterprise administrators.
“Enterprise networks, while continually hardened at the perimeter, need to apply mobile security controls to appropriately deal with the ever increasing BYOD push coming from employees,” said Troy Vennon, director of the Pulse Secure Mobile Threat Center and author of the report. “The focus on Android and jailbroken iOS devices by mobile malware developers illustrates that they are actively attempting to exploit mobile devices as the weak link in enterprise security.”
He expects to see a continued shift from enterprises trying to manage and secure an entire device to an approach that utilizes workspaces to secure only portions of the device that access and store corporate data. Users must also be better educated to understand third-party threats and should stick to trusted sources for downloading apps.
The Latest Mobile Testing News department was not involved in the creation of this content.