Mobile Threats on the Rise

Mobile Threats on the Rise
February 8, 2013

AVG’s Q4 2012 Community Powered Threat Report, released today, shows that mobile threats are among the fastest growing threats on the web. The report is based on traffic data gathered

AVG’s Q4 2012 Community Powered Threat Report, released today, shows that mobile threats are among the fastest growing threats on the web.

The report is based on traffic data gathered from the Community Protection Network traffic over a three-month period and provides an overview of the web, mobile devices, spam risks and threats.


How many mobile threats did AVG see in Q4 2012?

In Q4 2012, AVG’s Threat Labs detected close to 4 million mobile threats, many of which were designed specifically for Android devices, which are still growing in popularity.

During this period, the most common malware application that AVG detected was an Android application that disguised itself as a simple compass tool.


What type of threats did AVG detect?

After seeing the emergence of the First Android Rootkit earlier in 2012, Q4 brought some new innovative and malicious techniques to light.

We saw malware designed to target mobile banking services , apps which send text messages to premium rate services, and even Trojan-infected versions of popular games on unofficial app stores, including the bestseller Angry Birds Space.

What other type of malware was detected?

The rise of mobile malware did not grab all the headlines in 2012. The dominance of exploit toolkits that we saw throughout 2012 continued through the last quarter of 2012. In fact almost sixty (60%) per cent of all threat activity online was performed by exploit toolkits in 2012.

Why are toolkits so popular?  Simply put, they offer a chance for established cyber-criminals to sell readymade malware at a premium to less technically savvy peers eager to get into the market.

We saw a fresh example of this commercial malware in the last quarter of 2012, called the Cool Toolkit which accounted for 16% of the top web threats in Q4 2012, topped only by Blackhole at 40%.


Can we make any predictions for mobile threats in 2013?

Based on the threats we saw emerge at the end of 2012, we predict that mobile threats will continue to be a significant threat in 2013.

In particular, we expect an increase in MITMO (Man-In-The-Mobile) threats in 2013. MITMO attacks target internet banking services on both PCs and on mobiles via internet banking apps.

We also believe that the growing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend amongst businesses will help MITMO attacks gain momentum in the workplace as new mobile devices will constantly be connecting to company networks.


What can I do to protect my smartphone?

Protecting your mobile phone and the data stored on it is simple; here are five basic tips to guard against malware and scams.

  • Avoid installing any applications that aren’t downloaded from the official Google Play store. If you don’t know who made it, you can’t trust it.
  • Don’t install anything that sounds too good to be true. Examples may include “free ring tones” “free wallpaper” etc. Always be sure what your downloading is legitimate.
  • Think twice before “rooting” or jailbreaking your device to allow a lower level of protection than standard Android OS release.
  • Always keep your phone updated with the latest operating system. This will make sure your phone is as safe as possible. You should check for system updates about once a month.
  • Install an antivirus app on your phone. Be sure to check all settings; make sure the appropriate boxes are checked for the data you are receiving, i.e. web surfing, text messaging and real-time scanner. Ensure that you scan your device regularly and above all keep it up to date.


Where can I get the Q4 2012 Threat Report?

To download the full Q4 2012 Community Powered Threat Report, please visit the AVG media center.

Keep up to date with our regular threat bulletins on the AVG News & Threats blog.


February 8, 2013