Google Android Malware Up 472% Since July: Report

Dennis Faas's picture

Usually the term 'malware' is synonymous with PC infections that result in frustratingly sluggish computer performance. But now, the same term may be associated with mobile devices just as much as PCs, as the number of mobile malware infections skyrocket.

According to a new report from Juniper Networks, the number of Google Android applications laced with malware has jumped a staggering 472 per cent since July, 2011.

Android users now face a constantly growing wave of threats that isn't likely to abate any time soon. (Source:

"Tens of Thousands" of Malcious Apps

Juniper chief mobile security expert Dan Hoffman believes the number of sketchy applications for the Android platform number in the "tens of thousands," representing as much as five to six per cent of all such apps. (Source:

Most infections are caused by "pirated" apps, Hoffman says.

Pirated applications look just like legitimate mobile software but are laced with malware. Hoffman points out that, just last month, an app disguised as the Opera Mini Browser but packing oodles of malware was discovered (though not within the official "Android Market").

Pirated and malicious media players are another way many android devices get infected.

Junk Security Software Poses New Threat

There's a more subtle threat for Android devices, too: fake (or simply incompetent) security companies offering fraudulent (or lousy) security software.

Hoffman says that plenty of free apps in the Android store promise to protect against malware but do a rotten job of it. Hoffman suggests Android users spend the extra cash to purchase legitimate (and widely recognized) mobile security software that will actually do the job well.

In essence, Hoffman thinks people should start treating their mobile devices as if they were PCs: be careful what websites you visit and be extra careful what apps you download, particularly from third-party sites.

"I recommend always going to the vendor's web site and following the download link from there," Hoffman advises.

"Read reviews for the app that are published in the market, outside the app's page. That may cost you an extra three or four minutes per download, but it's well worth it [to help ensure you don't get scammed]."

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