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Malware targeting Android users increased nearly six-fold in Q3.

High-risk and dangerous applications targeting users of Google's Android platform increased from nearly 30,000 in June to almost 175,000 in September, according to Trend Micro's security roundup report for the third quarter of 2012.

The fact that only 20 percent of Android device owners use a security app does not help. Users need to understand what permissions apps seek, before approving them and unintentionally sharing sensitive information, Trend Micro said.

While some apps are clearly criminal -- such as those that secretly purchase premium smartphone services -- others are more of a privacy threat. These include "Aggressive Adware" apps that collect more personal information than the user has authorised. App developers may even be aware of the problem, thanks to the existence of rogue ad networks, the report concluded.

Though most adware is designed to collect user information, a fine line exists between collecting data for simple advertising use and violating one's privacy. Because adware normally collect user information for legitimate purposes, they can serve as an effective means to gather more data than some would want to give out.

"It's actually no surprise that we see such a huge increase in mobile malware. Android is the dominant smartphone platform with an amazing success story. The digital underground reads the statistics and analysts reports as well, and they figured out way to make money with mobile malware. And unlike your computer, getting information from your phone also reveals your location, the phone numbers you have called -- and more -- all stuff which could be sold. Our report digs deep into mobile malware, a must read!" said Raimund Genes, CTO, Trend Micro.

Amongst the notable trends in Q3 2012 were the findings of dangerous zero-day exploits targeting Java and Internet Explorer (IE) and also ZeroAccess malware, which are sometimes found on peer-to-peer sharing sites, were the top infector. PayPal attracted the most phishermen while Linkedin topped the list of chosen Blackhole Exploit Kit targets. Most spam is likely to have arrived via Saudi Arabia or India.

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Publication:Computer News Middle East
Date:Nov 7, 2012
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