With the rise of smartphones and tablets, it’s not exactly unsurprisingly that they’ve increasingly become a target for cyber criminals and other unscrupulous individuals. In the first half of this year, malware for portable devices increased by 273% compared with 2010.
Cross-platform Trojans are the main source of the growth and most of these viruses are designed to enable spamming or other criminal activities. “With mobile malware, cyber criminals have discovered a new business model,” explains Eddy Willems, Security Evangelist at G Data. “At the moment, the perpetrators mainly use backdoors, spy programs and expensive SMS services to harm their victims. Even though this special underground market segment is still being set up, we currently see an enormous risk potential for mobile devices and their users. We are therefore expecting another spurt of growth in the mobile malware sector in the second half of the year.”
If you think that it’s just hyperbole, think again. Zsone, an Android app in the Google Android Market sent subscriptions to Chinese premium SMS numbers and then intercepted the confirmations. The only way the user knew they’d been scammed was when the bill came in.
PC malware is on the rise too with a nearly 16% rise in the last six months. The graph below shows the rise of new malware each year since 2006 and if the growth continues, there will be more new malware in 2011 than 2006-09 combined.
It’s a bad world out there, so be careful no matter what platform you are on. Just because it’s a phone and not a PC, it doesn’t make you invulnerable.