2013: The Year of Mobile Malware?

According to mobile security firm, Lookout Mobile, 2013 is positioned to be “the year of mobile malware” for Android users. In their recently released report they claim that of the 1.2 billion mobile devices that are projected to be sold next year, about 18 million of those will come into contact with some sort of malware.

The overall trend for malware proliferation in 2012 has been an upward one, as the graph below demonstrates:

Of course, while the overall chance of being infected with malware is higher for 2013, the chance is severely affected by geographic location. Android users in the U.S. face pretty good odds, with only a .2%-.4% of downloading malicious content. Users in Russia, though, are looking at a greater than 35% chance. Because Android is a global platform, malicious content can spread easily no matter where it originates. So, even though users in the U.S. don’t face an immediate threat from malware abroad, it will certainly get to them eventually.

These figures and predictions line up with the research from Steve Mansfield-Devine. Writing for Network Security, his article “Android Malware and Mitigations” examines the causes and origins of the Android malware problem. According to him, the “[malware] problems are endemic on the platform. And if the Windows world has taught us anything, it’s that any flaw is likely to be exploited eventually.” The focus on Android by third-party security firms is great, but what is necessary in 2013 is a focus from Google and Android users. Android users have the ability to protect themselves by downloading apps that specifically monitor the downloaded content on their phone; And Google has to make sure that their Play store is cleaned up a little more than it was in 2012, where 23 of the top 500 apps were deemed “high risk.”

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