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AVG Highlights Mobile & Social Network Malware Threat

Security firm AVG has just released its Q1 threat report, which points out that cyber-criminals are looking to take advantage of the growth in mobile devices accessing social networks.

Social networks and mobile are the two new playgrounds for the cyber-criminal, so the overlap of these two areas isn't a surprising revelation, and as AVG points out one of the juiciest targets is Android handsets.

Yuval Ben-Itzhak, Chief Technology Officer at AVG, commented: "We detected a big increase in the use of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to target Android users. Cyber criminals are finding it very convenient to distribute their malware straight to a mobile device via these networks."

"The growth of the Android platform has been phenomenal, which has not gone unnoticed with cyber criminals who have discovered it to be a lucrative target for their malware. In 2011, Google had to remove over 100 malicious apps from the official Android market, Google Play."

Android is well known for being a less policed and secure environment than Apple's walled ecosystem of apps. And of course, social networks are renowned for containing more casual, less tech-savvy users, more likely to fall prey to malware. Not to mention huge user bases, with Facebook rapidly approaching the billion mark.

And as AVG notes, some 850,000 Android phones and tablets are activated every day - and with most mobile devices tied into operator billing contracts, monetization of mobile malware can be a great deal more effective than a traditional computer infection.

Cyber-criminals can make a lot of cash via malware that leverages premium SMS services. They can potentially charge low, infrequent amounts to keep the money dripping out under the radar, so the phone owner may not even notice they're being stolen from.