A study conducted by IT security specialists at Kaspersky Lab has revealed that malware which targets the Android smartphone platform made up 99% of all mobile malware with an explosive growth during 2012. At the end of 2010, 8 new malicious Android programs were being discovered each month rising to 800 per month by the end of 2011 and a staggering 6300 per month by the end of 2012, according to Kaspersky.
Of the malicious programs discovered, just over half of them fell into three specific categories making up the most popular attack vectors on the smartphone platform. These are SMS trojans, backdoors and spyware. SMS trojans are designed to install themselves on the phone and stream text messages to premium numbers to consume funds from the phone and direct them towards the premium number owner. Backdoors provide access to the phone content thus compromising personal and financial data and spyware gathers specifically targeted information, for example passwords.
Examples of malware trapped by Kaspersky Mobile Security during 2012 were predominantly SMS trojans and spyware but the company also noted a small amount of highly dangerous trojans aimed at mobile banking applications. To prevent unwanted software, Kaspersky is warning Android users to exercise care in loading software on the devices and not to assume that sources such as Google Play are trustworthy. Despite Google's best attempts at preventing malicious software from existing on Google Play, malware occasionally slips through the net.
Android users in Russia are described as being particularly vulnerable to SMS trojans which are widespread in the country where the majority of users have pay-per-use phones where credit is topped up using a voucher. The SMS trojans are designed to drain the credit from the phones using premium rate dial-ups.