McAfee reports 35pc growth in Android mobile threats

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Banking, dating and entertainment apps targeted by fraudsters as most profitable

Android-based malware grew by 35 per cent in the second quarter of 2013 with more than 18 million new samples uncovered, according to a report from security software company McAfee.

SMS-targeted banking malware, fraudulent dating apps and ‘weaponised’ legitimate apps – altered to act as spyware – are rising in popularity among cyber criminals according to the report, which warns that mobile threats are growing at a rate not seen since early 2012.

Ransomware – a type of malware which demands a payment in order to remove a restriction – also doubled since Q1 2013, reaching more than 320,000 new samples. The 2013 ransomware count is now higher than all other periods combined.

McAfee also noted several major cyber-attacks, including those on the global Bitcoin market as well as US and South Korean military assets.

McAfee labs senior vice president Vincent Weafer said: “The mobile cybercrime landscape is becoming more defined as cybergangs determine which tactics are most effective and profitable.

“As in other mature areas of cybercrime, the profit motive of hacking bank accounts has eclipsed the technical challenges of bypassing digital trust. Tactics such as the dating and entertainment app scams benefit from the lack of attention paid to such schemes; while others simply target the mobile paradigm’s most popular currency: personal user information.”

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