Android accounted for 79% of all mobile malware last year

by: Robert TriggsMarch 7, 2013

Android malware

I’ve never been affected by any serious malware or virus’ on my Android phone, despite rooting, playing with custom ROMs, and installing the occasional APK downloaded from outside of the Google Play Store. But still the statistics come pouring out decrying that Android is infested with malicious apps and security threats.

Personally I’m in total agreement with Simon Hill; sensible and cautious Android users don’t have anything to worry about. But regardless, let’s have a look at the latest statistics from security experts F-Secure; who of course don’t have an ulterior motive for publishing these statistics, like selling anti-virus software for instance.

malware F-Secure 2012 1

Shockingly, Android accounted for 79% of all malware attacks in 2012 according to F-Secure, up from 66.7% in 2011 and 11.25% in 2010. Clearly there appears to be a prevailing trend towards targeting Android, no doubt as a result of the operating system’s growing popularity and open-source accessibility.

iOS, Blackberry, and Windows operating systems on the other hand each received less than 1% of all malware attacks in 2012, which is a pretty massive difference from Android. Ok, but what exactly are we installing which is causing Android so many problems?

malware F-Secure 2012 2

We can see that the majority of the malware is coming in the form of Trojans; malware which gains unauthorized access to your device whilst appearing to perform something altogether more desirable. This could be an app which secretly steals and transmits personal information, or a game which tries to install other more malicious applications without your consent. Trojan’s can appear from a large number of sources, including security flaws in web browsers, so it’s not just suspicious apps on the Play Store causing problems.

Other security threats make up much smaller percentages; actively dangerous applications only makes up 1.7% of all threats, and adware accounts for a tiny 2.7%, which is surprising considering Android’s reputation for dodgy advertisement spammed applications.

F-Secure also stated that 21 of the 96 Android threats it identified in Q4 of 2012 came from premium SMS services. These encourage users to rack up additional SMS charges and sometimes even sign unwitting users up to subscription services. It backs up this claim by noting that malware attacks are becoming more and more financially motivated.

malware F-Secure 2012 3

Profit-motivated malware attacks now account for substantially more threats than the previously dominant non-financially motivated ones, which could be due to the fact that we are putting far more financial information on our devices than ever before. A problem which could be made worse by the numerous wallet apps being pushed out by developers.

Although these statistics look bad, it’s worth remembering that F-Secure’s definition of malware might be quite different from yours or mine. For example, does an app qualify as malware simply because it requires root access, and therefore could theoretically be a security threat?

I recommend you take this data with a pinch of salt, after all F-Secure certainly has a vested interest in convincing us all that evil is just a click away. Just install a decent free anti-virus app if you’re really that concerned, and relax.

  • Filip Justin

    More from the frenzied bugdroid, lol..

  • RarestName

    Those who got malware were probably trying to pirate applications :/

  • Never had one bit of malware on any of my Android devices. I can’t help but point out that these are percentages. I don’t believe that malware is a real problem in the mobile market at all. 79 percent of a minor problem isn’t really that concerning.

    • kascollet

      That’s right.

      Out of those 301 malwares, percentages give these raw numbers of malwares for 2012 :
      – Android : 238
      – Symbian : 57
      – J2ME : 2
      – iOS : 2
      – Windows : 1
      – BB : 1

      For each 119 malwares that impact Android, iOS gets…one.

      Hopefully, Samsung will save us (only those of us carrying recent devices…bad luck for my GS2 !) :

      • 301 total malware. Minor issue. Do you realize how much malware affects Windows?

        • kascollet

          Yes of course, it’s no big deal.

          • By the way I was just looking at your linked apple insider post. FYI I work in IT for a major international law firm. Security is a huge deal and we support firm email on Android devices as well as iOS devices. There are already solutions out there that make both platforms secure for email. We use MAAS 360 for ours and it gives full lock down of firm email and data and also gives IT the ability to remotely lock and wipe a device.

          • I’ve been able to remotely lock, wipe, locate, ring, shut down my windows phone since 7 was release, that came installed. And look at the percentage of apps in the android marketplace that have malware. I hope your firm enjoys getting they’re info jacked because their IT guy is fandroid. You people will say anything to try and protect that crappy o.s.

          • I don’t make any decisions on what platforms we use pal. Far more qualified people make those decisions. We use Maas360 for both iOS and Android. We don’t even support WP as nobody wants to use that POS anyway. Still support BB and nothing else beats that on enterprise security. I am stating valid points and you are calling names.

  • 11222

    I’ve always downloaded 3rd party app from XDA. flipboard etc. like to think this has been a good strategy

  • brady

    Sit and think for a second. How could these figures be accurate?

  • Adam Outler

    Were the stats quoted from “virus scanner” comapnies? They mark ROM Manager as malware.. Pretty much any root app gets marked.

    • Thats because most of them take your info and feed it out to public companies without you knowing. Thus why android users are the ones who get spam texts all the time. BTW if android is so good, then why does everyone have to root thier phones to do what they want? WP does everything out of the box.

      • Adam Outler

        LOL…. windows phone does like 5 things total… and you have to pay to sideload and develop apps.

  • raindog469

    Their “report” lists the app that patches the Exynos bug as malware, along with many other harmless or beneficial apps — essentially anything that provides or requires root. It’s a marketing scare piece, nothing more. When someone like US-CERT produces equivalent figures, maybe I’ll pay attention.

    • Plus, their report has picture of Cupcake…that right there throws it all out for me.

  • rvichar

    Blah Blah Blah, let’s try to make Android scary like PC’s so we can sell useless anti-malware software. Guess what PC’s and Droids are very secure if you don’t click on every pop-up app, install every fart app from unknown sources, and play every stupid game out there.

  • AJSMSG78

    I don’t know one single person who had Malware on their Android phone. I have a lot of computer clients who have Android phones and none of them ever complained about this. I don’t know where these numbers come from.