Virus threats to mobile devices double – Kaspersky

Anti-virus software vendor, Kaspersky Lab says that the number of malicious programmes targeting mobile devices has more than doubled between August 2009 and December 2010.

Records of Kaspersky Lab’s virus database for 2010 posted on their website indicated that last year, over 65% more new threats targeting mobile devices were detected than in the previous year; and over 1,000 variants from 153 different families of mobile threats were also added to the database.

The company said the growing popularity of the Android platform in particular, has drawn the cybercriminals’ attention, adding that in August 2010, the first malicious programme targeting Android was detected, and since then, that number has reached 15 programmes from a total of 7 families.

“The first threats targeting Apple’s iPhone OS also appeared during this last reporting period, but infected only devices that had been jail-broken in order to install third-party games and other software not manufactured by Apple,” Kaspersky said.

It noted that most mobile threats continue to target the Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME) platform, which is supported by a huge number of mobile devices, saying, that means it is not only smartphones that are at risk of infection, but basic mobile phones as well.

The records showed that the second most-targeted platform is Symbian, with Python in third place.

Senior Malware Analyst at Kaspersky Lab, Denis Maslennikov was quoted as saying “the use of SMS Trojans is still the easiest and most effective means by which malicious users can earn money.”

He said the reason was that any mobile device, be it a smartphone or a basic mobile phone, has a direct connection to its owner’s money via their mobile account, and “it is this direct connection that cybercriminals actively exploit.”

Maslennikov noted that from last year, virus writers have moved from sending fee-based text messages to developing threats targeting different platforms, adding that other unlawful schemes such as redirecting mobile Internet banking users to phishing sites and stealing passwords sent by banks to mobile phones are also being used.

He said mobile threats have become more complex than ever and include the emergence of mobile bots and other remotely-controlled software, adding that “this means that attacks launched by mobile threats have reached a completely new level.”

Meanwhile, Kaspersky Lab predicts an increase in the number of vulnerabilities found on mobile platforms, as well as an increase in the number of threats for Android and the continued use of short numbers by cybercriminals.
By Samuel Dowuona

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