Android malware more than doubled in 2014

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31 December 2014

FORTIGUARD Labs, the threat research division of Fortinet Inc., said the year 2014 has seen a growing volume of mobile malware, particularly for devices running on Google operating system (OS).  Fortinet Vice President for Southeast Asia George Chang told the BusinessMirror that the total number of Android malware samples detected by the company’s research unit since January 2011 more than doubled over the last 12 months—from about 450,000 samples in November 2013 to 920,000 samples in the same period of this year.

“We expect this trend to continue [next year],” he said. One reason for this, he noted, is manufacturers of gadgets, who launch multiple handsets annually, have little incentive to patch their older handsets with newer software.

“It makes more financial sense for them to simply produce and sell new handset models,” he said. For the second quarter of 2014, research firm Strategy Analytics said smartphone shipments reached 295.2 million units worldwide, or 27 percent more than the 233 million units delivered during the same period last year. The Android OS captured a new record of 84.6 percent (249.6 million units) global market share, up from 80.2 percent during the second quarter of 2013, mainly at the expense of all its competitors. As per Gartner, Android will cross the 1-billion annual market in sales in 2015 in emerging markets. Fortinet—a global leader in high-performance network security—had predicted Android malware migrating to industrial control systems (ICS) and Internet of Things this year. Since sales of mobile phones are seen to plateau in the coming years, Android developers are looking at untapped markets for the Google OS. These include tablets, portable-game consoles, wearable devices, home-automation equipment, and ICS or SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system.

Chang said cybercriminals are attracted to platforms that go beyond common short-message service or SMS fraud. For instance, he said that in new home-automation devices with control over electrical consumption, the temperature of refrigerators, or feature software with remote login control panels to show or confirm who may be at home at a given time, these give online felons new and nefarious ideas on how and when to rob someone’s residence.

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