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Juniper sees shift from 'proof of concept to profitability' in mobile malware

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Juniper Networks has released a mobile malware report for 2011 that shows massive growth in malware applications, particularly on the Android OS.

Android Opera Exploit
Android Opera Exploit

As smartphones grow in popularity, so does the amount of malicious software for them. Juniper Networks has reported that mobile malware grew 155 percent between 2010 and 2011, much of it on the Android platform. The security firm examined around 800,000 apps and vulnerabilities on all platforms, looking both at official app stores and unofficial repositories known to have malicious applications. It found a total of roughly 28,500 samples of malware. Of that, about 63 percent was spyware, which captures data from the phone, and roughly 36 percent was SMS trojan software, which make money by hijacking a phone to send premium text messages. Other forms of malware, like worms, made up less than one percent.

Juniper says that unlike in 2010, mobile malware in 2011 was focused strongly on making money. SMS trojans like RootSmart, for example, can generate huge profits from premium texts. Because of its popularity and openness, Android was by far the most popular OS for this malware, corroborating reports we saw last year. However, the Android market itself wasn't singled out for criticism. Instead, Juniper found that over half of all Android malware came from fake installer files, mostly from third-party stores that offered pirated copies of legitimate Android Market apps. In cases like the fake Opera Mini installer pictured above, users were tricked into paying for apps using SMS, opening the door to future exploitation.

Companies like Google and Apple are working to root out malware from official channels, but Juniper doesn't think its growth will slow in 2012. In addition to current exploits, we'll probably start seeing more malware targeting web browsing or specific applications. For more breakdowns of threats by platform and type, click through to the source link below.