Android Under Attack: Malware Jumps 76 Percent

McAfee report says Google mobile OS faces more threats

Google’s Android may be gaining popularity among consumers but, according to security firm McAfee, it’s attracting increased attention from another, less desirable group, too: cyber criminals.

In its quarterly threats report, released today, the company said the Android operating system became the most popular target for mobile malware developers in the last quarter.

Symbian OS and Java ME are still the most targeted platforms to date but, citing a 76 percent jump in the volume of malware intended for Android, McAfee said Android could become an even bigger mark for criminals.

“This year we’ve seen record-breaking numbers of malware, especially on mobile devices, where the uptick is in direct correlation to popularity,” Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of McAfee Labs, said in a statement. “Overall attacks are becoming more stealth and more sophisticated, suggesting that we could see attacks that remain unnoticed for longer periods of time. High-profile hacktivist groups have also changed the landscape by drawing a line between attacks for personal gain and attacks meant to send a message.”

Given the amount of personal and business data stored on mobile devices, McAfee said, they’re increasingly become valuable targets for cybercriminals, who often mimic the code for PC-based threats.

One popular tactic for compromising devices involves corrupting legitimate apps and games to trick users into downloading malware onto their devices, McAfee said, “affecting everything from calendar apps, to comedy apps to SMS messages to a fake Angry Birds updates.”