Trend Micro: Android malware threats, high-risk apps eclipse 1M mark


Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android mobile operating is under attack by more than a million malware threats and high-risk applications, according to new data from security software firm Trend Micro.

Source: Trend Micro

Seventy-five percent of questionable apps identified by Trend Micro perform outright malicious routines like sending messages to certain numbers and registering users to costly services, while the remaining 25 percent exhibit dubious routines, including adware, said the company's technical communications editor Gelo Abendan. Malware family FAKEINST led all malware threats at 34 percent, followed by the OPFAKE family at 30 percent.

"FAKEINST malware are typically disguised as legitimate apps. They are also premium service abusers, which sends unauthorized text messages to certain numbers and register users to costly services," Abendan explains. "The OPFAKE malware is similar to FAKEINST, particularly in mimicking legitimate apps. However, a variant showed a different side of the malware, as it was found to open an .HTML file that asks users to download a possibly malicious file."

Shifting the focus to high-risk apps, ARPUSH and LEADBLT combined to represent 60 percent of threats to Android user security. "Both are known adware and infostealers, collecting device-related data such as OS information [and] GPS location," Abendan notes.

Trend Micro adds that mobile device threats are not limited to rogue versions of popular apps and adware: "Threat actors are also pouncing on mobile users' banking transactions, with the likes of FAKEBANK and FAKETOKEN malware threatening users," Abendan states.

Security experts have blamed Android fragmentation for the platform's vulnerabilities, noting that the vast majority of devices run older versions of the Android OS, preventing them from receiving new security measures delivered by Google and leaving users exposed to threats. Critics also maintain that Google has failed to sufficiently police its Google Play digital storefront, making it easy for attackers to distribute malware via Android apps.

For more:
- read this Trend Micro Security Intelligence Blog post

Related articles:
McAfee: Android malware threats explode 35 percent in Q2
Bluebox: Android security flaw exposes 99 percent of devices to hacker attack
Lookout: 1M U.S. Android owners have downloaded adware in past year
Android malware disguised as mobile ad network infects up to 9 million devices
ACLU lobbies FTC to probe carriers over Android security
Report: Android malware doubled in 2012, infecting 3 million devices