Whoa! Nearly 5,000 new Android malware samples discovered each day in Q1 2015

AndroidA security firm has revealed that nearly 5,000 unique Android malware files were created each day during the first quarter of 2015.

According to the recently released Mobile Malware Report – Threat Report: Q1/2015, security researchers at G Data Software have identified an increase in Android malware over the course of the past year.

"During the first quarter of 2015, G DATA security experts chronicled 440,267 new malware files," explains the report. "This represents an increase of 6.4 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2014 (413,871). On average, the experts discovered almost 4,900 new Android malware files every day in the first quarter of 2015, an increase of almost 400 more new malware files per day compared to the second half of 2014."

Android malware chart

Christian Geschkat, G DATA mobile solutions product manager, explained to Infosecurity Magazine that approximately half of the malware samples his company detected were financially motivated and were therefore capable of stealing users' banking credentials:

"The use of smartphones and tablets for online banking is increasing rapidly," observed Geschkat. "With its dominant market position, the Android operating system in particular is coming to the attention of cyber-criminals. Hence it is no surprise that attackers are developing and distributing financial malware such as banking trojans especially for this platform. As such, we are expecting a significant increase in financially motivated malware for the Android operating system this year."

But this rise in mobile malware threatens much more than just people's hard-earned money. It also potentially jeopardizes the security of IoT products that are compatible with a mobile device, such as fitness trackers and medical applications that might store a person's sensitive information.

Ultimately, the findings of G Data might not come as a surprise to many.

After all, a recent study released by Pulse Secure found that around 97% of mobile malware is specifically designed to target Android devices. This is in part due to the low barriers of entry for app developers and, until recently, a lack of manual security screening for new applications submitted to the Google Play Store.

Just this week, Google was forced to a kick a malicious app out of the Google Play store which was pretending to be an Android battery monitor.

For now, Android users can reduce (but not entirely eradicate) the risk by only installing apps from known sources.

Not recommended

Not recommended

Let's be honest. Android is and will continue to remain a preferred mobile platform for hundreds of millions of users well into the future.

But if ordinary customers and app developers are to continue to benefit from this mobile OS, Google would be wise to look at G Data's findings and invest some deeper resources into bolstering Android's security.

It's a difficult tradeoff, app security vs. openness and speed of release, but it needs to be weighed regardless.

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6 Responses

  1. David L

    July 8, 2015 at 3:42 pm #

    One of the former members of an old hacking group L0pht has been hired by the US government to start a "underwriters laboratory" for testing the security of software and I hope hardware. Although it will take time to get it going,it is supposed to be an independent organization. We can use all the help we can get.

    Now, if we can get everyone (oem's) to slow down and do a better job of incorporating security and patching their mistakes beyond two years,then the amount of malware will be reduced somewhat.(not holding my breath) with the oem's and carriers customizing Android,the problem is made worse. I just reads a new study that investigated this. Two researchers are giving a talk on this at Blackhat USA 2015 in September. And another good talk I saw in the briefings is " Why bring a Cannon to a Knife Fight" and is about China's "Great Cannon" and the vulnerabilities of using Chinese hardware and software. Finally someone is going to address this ongoing problem. The reason I mentioned this is because many apps and phones by Chinese developers call home over http and cxanb be intercepted and targeted individually as well as en mass. Read the research by Citizens lab. Combined with older os on Android,this is compounded.

    I don't have any personal animosity toward the smart hard working Chinese developer's and or companies per say,but what they are subject to,as their loyalties to the government come first. Unlike the way that they operate in the west.

    I'm constantly amazed by those why downplay the threat,like Google's Ludwig,and many Android news sites. Always debating wether AV security is needed from Android,and those numbers say it all !

    • Coyote in reply to David L.

      July 8, 2015 at 9:49 pm #

      "group L0pht has been hired by the US government"
      Is it by chance Mudge ?

      "I'm constantly amazed by those why downplay the threat,like Google's Ludwig,and many Android news sites."
      I'm not amazed but rather bemused, personally. But Ludwig came to my mind immediately, too.

      "Always debating wether AV security is needed from Android,and those numbers say it all !"
      My immediate thought included this, too. No device is immune to malware. Not one. Only the very naive will refute this, and unfortunately they are very wrong indeed.

      • david L in reply to Coyote.

        July 8, 2015 at 10:06 pm #

        Yes mudge is the guy @coyote….. Here is the article for that : http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/07/01/mudge_leaves_chocolate_factory_for_washington/ And the link to a great article about L0pht in the Washington Posts series. Click the menu top right in the article for part one and two . http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/business/2015/06/22/net-of-insecurity-part-3/

        • Coyote in reply to david L.

          July 9, 2015 at 2:18 am #

          Thanks. I somehow suspected it. As I recall he has worked for the government before (but maybe I'm remembering wrong, it is someone else I know or it is a figment of my imagination).

          I'll check the links (although I have a rather strong hunch on what it is about… something I remember years ago). The first one interests me more so, perhaps, though, given it seems recent (or more recent).

          Edit: It is what I thought. Will read it in any case.

          • David L in reply to Coyote.

            July 9, 2015 at 2:43 am #

            You have a good memory. Mudge worked for DARPA. I'm sure you know what they are. And he gets to start what L0pht advocated to a congressional panel way back in 1998 I think. He has got to be geeked about realizing a dream after all these years.

          • Coyote in reply to Coyote.

            July 11, 2015 at 12:23 am #

            Yes, I think it was 1998. I still remember it from the time but only I remember them being in front of the US congress (I don't remember much of what they said other than they could shut down the Internet in ~30 minutes). Mudge was generally the public one of the lot, as I recall. Naturally I do know of DARPA; we should all be thankful for their work during the Cold War (there was certainly one very good thing of the tensions back then, that being the arpanet, for without it we probably wouldn't have the Internet as we know it).

            I wouldn't necessarily say I have the best memory (in fact, I wasn't thinking of DARPA.. and it was a friend of old that originally mentioned it to me). But that scene (also the virus scene although I was in it for the programming.. as Graham pointed out, while there was some malice, there was an art to it, and many were amazing programmers, and programming is in my blood) was a significant part of my life in those days (it was very different back then). That is why I was curious when you mentioned L0pth. Thanks for the responses; the links you included reminded me of some things I had forgotten about a long time ago (many events back then, and things have changed so much since then).

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