The world's popular mobile operating system - Android was accounted for 79 percent of mobile malware in 2012, according to a security firm.
The Finland-based F-Secure in its fourth quarter of Mobile Threat Report has revealed that, Android operating system which dominates the smartphone market shares globally, has also become the leading platform for hackers to target.
"Every quarter, malware authors bring forth new threat families and variants to lure more victims and to update on the existing ones," F-Secure stated in the report. "In the fourth quarter alone, 96 new families and variants of Android threats were discovered, which almost doubles the number recorded in the previous quarter."
F-Secure detected 301 new threat families and variants in 2012 and Android operating system continued to its growth in malware threats throughout 2012. The rise of Android malware can be largely attributed to its increasing dominance in the mobile market. Android's market share has risen to 68.8 percent in 2012 compared to 49.2 percent in 2011. In terms of malware threat, Android rose to 79 percent in 2012 from 66.7 percent in 2011.
On the other hand, the Symbian operating system has a huge drop in the market share. In 2012, it only held 3.3 percent market share from 16.5 percent in 2011. In terms of threat, Symbian dropped from 29.7 percent in 2011 to 19 percent in 2012. Nokia's decision to stop all Symbian app development in February 2012 may be the reason for the huge drop in numbers.
Other operating systems including BlackBerry OS, Apple's iOS, Microsoft's Windows Phone and J2ME have seen some threats popping up once in a while and accounts to less than 1 percent malware threats.
New mobile threat families and variants received per quarter, Q1–Q4 2012 (Credit: F-Secure)
"Malware in general has a parasitic relationship with its host," said Sean Sullivan, Security Advisor at F-Secure Labs. "As old Symbian handsets continue to be replaced by those with other operating systems, especially Android, Symbian malware dies off and will probably go extinct in 2013. May it rest in peace."
F-Secure noted that "shady SMS-sending practices" and banking Trojans are the major malware threats. Threats SMS can sign up the victims to an SMS-based subscription service, whereas the banking Trojans are intended to hack passwords for online accounts and then transfer money from victim's account.
The security firm also mentioned one such case of mobile threat with Eurograbber, a variant of the Zeus Trojon.
"Bank Info Security reported that Eurograbber managed to steal USD47 million from over 30,000 retail and corporate accounts in Europe," the firm said.
To report problems or to leave feedback about this article, e-mail:
To contact the editor, e-mail: