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Malicious Android apps and malware to top a million by end of 2013

Google’s Android OS is teeming with malicious apps and malware as the number nears the million mark – something it will reach before the year’s out.

Trend Micro’s Q2 Security Roundup Report reveals the number of malicious apps hit 718,000 by the end of June 2013 – with 350,000 of these new additions to the list.

"Google's open Android ecosystem continues to be exploited by cyber criminals, with the number of malicious apps rising from 509,000 in [the first quarter of] 2013 and well on track to hit the million mark before the year is out," the report stated.

Significantly, the number of malicious apps and malware took three years to reach 350,000 but the amount has more than doubled during just six months.

The highest number of malicious apps was the 44 per cent that come under the umbrella of “Premier Service Abuser”. These apps worked by making users subscribe or use services without prior knowledge, with the developer pocketing whatever profit came of it.

24 per cent of malicious apps, the second highest amount, were “Data Stealers” with “Adware” and “Malicious Downloaders” accounting for 17 per cent and 7 per cent of the threats.

Linda Barrabee, research director of Connected Intelligence at The NPD Group, added that the problem is made worse by just 30 per cent of all Android smartphones and tablets in the US having a security app installed.

“Due to the fractured nature of the Android network, it is very difficult for patches to reach all users in an effective timeframe. In some cases, users will never get patches as vendors leave their customers at risk of attack,” stated JD Sherry, vice president, technology and solutions, Trend Micro.

“At the rate this malware is accelerating – almost exponentially – we appear to be reaching a critical mass. To fight this, Android users need to take great care when using their devices and take the simple, but effective, step of adding security software to all mobile devices,” he added.

Google has moved to release an Android Device Manager to help users find their lost or stolen device but there is still no centralised app to target malware. Android phone owners are advised to be wary of all apps or download one of the plethora of security apps available on the Google Play Store.

Image Credit: Flickr: (Tsahi Levent-Levi)