Kaspersky charts surge in mobile banking malware

Business man using smartphone as part of bring your own device trend
Mobile banking malware was the biggest security threat to emerge in 2013, while 98 percent of all attacks targeted the Android platform, according to new data from Kaspersky Lab.

Kaspersky revealed the data following new research into mobile malware in 2013. In total the firm detected 143,211 new modifications of malicious programs hitting mobile devices in 2013, compared with 46,415 found in 2012, the firm said.

Mobile banking malware was seen as the biggest rising threat, as cyber criminals see it as an easy way to make big money.

Kaspersky researchers wrote in a blog post detailing the findings: “The cyber industry of mobile malware is becoming more focused on making profits more effectively, i.e., mobile phishing, theft of credit card information, money transfers from bank cards to mobile phones and from phones to the criminals’ e-wallets."

“Cyber criminals have become obsessed by this method of illegal earnings: at the beginning of the year we knew only 67 banking Trojans, but by the end of the year there were already 1,321 unique samples.”
The graph below shows this rapid rise in mobile banking malware.
Kaspersky graph showing rise in mobiel banking malware
Kaspersky said the spread of mobile banking malware was being led by the use of unofficial apps and botnets "sending out text messages with a malicious link to addresses in the victim’s address book".

Concerns that mobile banking could be a major threat to consumers have been raised before by groups such as the Financial Conduct Authority and the figures from Kaspersky do little to suggest much is being done to counter this rising tide.

Currently, Russia is the main location where mobile banking is used, but this will change in 2014: "Given the cyber criminals’ interest in user bank accounts, the activity of mobile banking Trojans is expected to grow in other countries in 2014."

Unsurprisingly Android is by far the main platform targeted by crooks, with a staggering 98 percent of all attacks targeting the platform, as the chart below shows. There is no specific mention of iOS or Windows Phone.
Kaspersky graph showing Android as main source of mobile malware threats

Kaspersky said the data proved both the popularity of Android but also the "vulnerability of its architecture", as it lamented its shoddy security.

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