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Symantec announces 10th anniversary of mobile malware

2014 is the tenth anniversary of mobile malware, according to Symantec.

Over the last two years, major growth has been seen in various forms of malware targeting mobile devices, from Trojans and adware, with the focus mainly falling on Android phones.

Since then, mobile malware has become a serious threat; one that has been ten years in the making.

It all started back in 2004, when devices running the Symbian OS started to pick up a bug that would steal data and infect local files, which spread itself via Bluetooth. However, users had to accept the download and manually accept the file transfer, which fortunately limited its spread.

Fast-forward a few months and a cracked version of the game Mosquito started circulating online. An in-built Trojan.Mos would send premium text messages in the background, securing a lucrative profit for the malware developer. This same tactic is used in hundreds of Trojanised Android games today.

Soon after, Skull appeared – so named after its main payload, which replaces icons with skulls – and by 2005, SymbOS.CommWarrior.A brought MMS messages into the fray.

Trojan.RedBrowser.A then took the threat to different operating systems via premium SMS, and within a year mobile devices were facing a malware risk similar to that of desktop computers.

Android became the biggest mobile phone platform in 2011 and the majority of threats are now targeted towards Android devices. iOS remains fairly immune in comparison, though in 2010 an iPhone jailbreak website demonstrated the feasibility of drive-by-download attacks, which had previously only threatened Windows PCs.

Mobile phone operators have since upgraded their security. One thing's for certain, though - Malware will continue to plague mobile users, and the next evolution of devices will no doubt bring further opportunity for attacks.