Samsung S8500 Wave & Vodafone-HTC Android Smartphones Hit by Malware Attacks

By Team YS|30th Aug 2011
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1410% increase in Malware attacks targeting Android Smartphone users in the last six months

Trend Micro Inc., a global cloud security leader, has noted a fourteen-fold increase (1410%) of malware targeting Android smartphone users in the last six months. This is perceived as due to their increased potential for damage and propagation. Owning to their portability and advanced computing features, smartphones are becoming popular devices among consumers. However, these gadgets are susceptible to various security threats regardless of the operating system (Android, iOS, Symbian or Blackberry OS) they are running.

Today’s technology-driven market has given way to the proliferation of mobile phones with advanced features, in order to cater to consumers’ need to stay connected. Thus, it is not surprising that the worldwide mobile phone sales have increased. According to IMS Research, sales of smartphones will exceed 420 million devices by the end of this year, accounting for almost 28 percent of the entire global handset market. They also predicted that annual sales will surpass one billion devices by the end of 2016, accounting for one of every two mobile handsets sold. Furthermore, a report by the Wireless Federation shows that the Asia-Pacific smartphone market is expected to double to 200 million by 2016 at a compounding annual rate of 12.5 percent.

“While smartphones are becoming increasingly popular, users should be aware that their heavy use has made them likely targets of security threats,” said Amit Nath Country Manager India and SAARC Trend Micro. “The threats include worms and spyware that track users’ Web activity and location, make charges via SMS messages, and more.”

In the past year, TrendLabs has seen cases of mobile malware infection and exploitation plague users straight from the shelf. For example, Vodafone was blamed for shipping 3,000 worm-laden HTC Android smartphones. Trend Micro believes that it was an infected computer in the production line that caused the problem. Samsung also inadvertently distributed malware along with its new S8500 Wave smartphone. The worm, detected as WORM_AUTORUN. WAV, attempted to infect a user’s PC when the phone was connected to it.

Applications are one of the major factors that make a smartphone appealing. However, not all apps users find on app stores are safe to use. Last December, Google removed 50 suspicious-looking apps from the Android Market after proving that these used various banks’ names without their permission. Besides, as apps become seemingly integral to mobile phones, users are jailbreaking their devices just to download alternative apps. A developer named Comex even released a jailbreaking tool dubbed JailbreakMe, detected as TROJ_PIDIEF.HLA, for Apple’s iPhone 4 and other products that run on iOS.

Also, the popularity of Web browsing via smart phones has created an opportunity for cybercriminals to expand their target base. Unfortunately, most mobile users unconcerned, Myla Pilao said. In fact, a survey by Trend Micro indicated that 44 percent of users are lax with regard to surfing via mobile phones and only 23 percent of the respondents utilize mobile phone security software. This lack of vigilance among users makes them vulnerable to the Web threats.

Given the many mobile phone risks, there are some best practices that can help prevent malware infection, such as downloading apps from trusted sites, avoiding unsecure browsing, utilizing built-in security features of phone, and installing security software offered by prestigious security provider.

“If your phone gets infected, don’t panic. Just remove the malicious application and scan your computer with security software if the two devices are often connected. Most importantly, change passwords to your online accounts” Amit Nath added.

Check out Trend Micro for further details!

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