Malware Threatens 5 Percent Of Android And iPhones

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Trusteer warns that five percent of iPhones and Android phones will be infected with malware in 2012

One in 20 Android mobiles and iPhones will be infected by financial malware and Trojans within the next 12 months, according to security company Trusteer.

As smartphones grow in popularity, fraudsters are increasingly researching iOS and Android for vulnerabilities, said Trusteer CEO Mickey Boodaei. Many have effective exploit kits which can automate this process, and carry out large scale operations which compromise websites and force them to distribute malware.

“In my opinion, this all leads to one conclusion – we are about to face one of the worst security problems ever and it won’t be long before we do,” said Boodaei.

Jailbroken iPhones

While iOS – the operating system that runs on iPhones, iPads, and iPods – is fairly secure, many users choose to ‘jailbreak’ their devices, in order to run applications that are not on the App Store. This makes them much more vulnerable to attack – as the recent hack proved.

Last week, a team of hackers working on software to jailbreak the iPhone uncovered zero-day vulnerabilities in several versions of Apple’s iOS, that allowed malware to be transferred from infected PDFs onto devices, allowing criminals to access confidential data.

“This recent vulnerability is not the first which allows fraudsters to compromise iOS devices and it won’t be the last,” said Boodaei. “Fraudsters will continue to research iOS and discover more vulnerabilities which will allow them to compromise devices and commit fraud. I hope I’m wrong, but a year from now this can become so common that it will not even hit the news.”

Weak Android security

Meanwhile, Trusteer reckons that Android’s security architecture is so weak that building a powerful fraudulent Android application that steals and abuses the user’s identity and their bank account details is “almost trivial”. Because the Android Market is by its nature open, distributing malicious applications is relatively easy.

Several malicious applications have already been identified on the Android Market and, although Google removes this malware as quickly as it can, more keep coming. Trusteer claims to have identified malicious applications on the Android Market in the past which have stayed there for weeks before being taken off by Google.

“In order to take down an applications in Google Market we actually had to use contacts within Google which are not available to the average user,” said Boodaei. “The process of identifying and removing malicious applications from the Android Market requires major improvements.”

Trusteer highlights and occasion earlier this year when Man in the Mobile (MitMo) malware was ported onto Android devices. The malware took over the user’s online bank account and injected fraudulent transactions on behalf of the user.

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