Endpoint security threat: Rise of mobile malware

by Charles Leaver

February 27, 2014

access_time 4 min read

In the past, prime targets for cybercriminals included computer systems like PCs, workstations and server arrangements. However, security experts recently noted that the mobile platform is at an increased risk of infection due to the steady rise of mobile malware threatening endpoint security over the past few months.

According to The Guardian, one security firm identified more than 143,000 new or adjusted mobile malware samples last year alone. CRN also reported that 650,000 new pieces of malware were recognized by a group of security researchers in the last 12 months.

Although principal researcher Vanja Svajcer noted that the number of mobile malware samples pales in comparison with the amount of infections for traditional PCs, the mobile platform is the "fastest-growing threat landscape." Svajcer also said that in certain regions including Russia, Australia and Sweden, identified mobile malware strains have surpassed the number of recognized desktop attacks.

The first piece of mobile malware was discovered about a decade ago, but the sector is grown to become a serious endpoint security risk recently.

"Since we first detected Android malware in August 2010, we have recorded we over 300 malware families," Svajcer said.

The number of mobile malware samples "exploded" from May of last year, according to Svajcer, and is continually growing. Furthermore, as the smartphone device market progresses, the amount of black hat attacks will increase as well.

Black hats band together for boosted profits
Additionally, experts pointed out that in the current black hat environment, hackers are often working together.

"It is safe to say that today's cybercriminal is no longer a lone hacker, but part of a serious business operation," one security blog stated according to The Guardian. "It is now clear that a distinct industry has developed and is becoming more focused on extracting profits, which is clearly evident from the functionality of malware."

The Guardian also noted that according to Cisco research, a rising number of mobile malware samples are financially motivated, leveraging phishing and other strategies to steal payment card and other monetary information. Furthermore, V3 reported that some of the largest endpoint data protection threats in the mobile sector are banking malware samples. The number of these type of banking strains has exploded recently, with more than 1,000 new samples recorded last year.

A considerable number of banking malware have targeted users in Russia recently, however, the trend is set to globally grow.

"Given the cybercriminals' interest in user bank accounts, the activity of mobile banking Trojans is expected to grow in other countries in 2014," security experts told V3.