Third party Android stores host over 7000 malicious apps

Unofficial Android stores host over 7000 malicious and dangerous apps, an investigation by non-profit cyber security organisation AV-Comparatives has found.

The research looked at 20 major third-party Android app stores between November 2012 and May 2013. 7,175 apps containing malware, adware and spyware were discovered inside the markets.

The vast majority of the malicious app were hosted in Chinese based stores, with the lowest malware presence found in European stores.

The research shows that the issue is a growing problem across Asia, with European and American consumers less widely affected; nearly 95 per cent of the dangerous apps were found in Asian stores.

A large volume of the infected apps were found to be in some of the most popular Chinese stores.

AV-Comparatives said the app stores have been informed of the finding and some have already removed the most dangerous apps from their servers. Others ignored the warnings however.

"While the mobile app stores try to limit the number of harmful apps by implementing certain regulations, some malicious/unwanted apps still escape filtering," the organisation said.

"The increasing popularity of smartphones in general, combined with the growth of the Android market share, means that Android-based systems are an increasingly popular target for cybercriminals."

Those worried about malicious apps on Android OS can use AV-Comparatives' free online service that checks for unsafe apps, AVC UnDroid.

A recent US government internal memo revealed that 79 per cent of threats to mobile operating systems in the US last year were on Android, compared to just 0.7 per cent on iOS and 0.3 per cent on BlackBerry.