Android seems to be repeating history by way of Windows. The platform's growing dominance in the mobile landscape echoes that of Windows in the desktop and laptop space. And much like Windows, Android's popularity is making it a prime target for cybercriminals and attackers, albeit at a much faster pace.
Android vs. PC Threat Timeline
In 2012, Trend Micro, the Japanese security software company detected 350,000 malicious and high-risk Android app samples, showing a significant increase from the 1,000 samples seen in 2011. It took less than three years for malicious and high-risk Android apps to reach this number -- a feat that took Windows malware 14 years.
Android Threat Growth
2012 saw an exponential increase in the number of detected Android malware, with 350,000 malicious samples by yearend. The number of detections spiked in the third quarter from 41,000 to 156,000 samples. The significant increase was due to the swell in aggressive adware.
Distribution of Threat Types
Premium service abusers topped this year's list of most common malicious and high-risk Android app detections. They behave like the dialers of the desktop environment. Dialers call premium numbers and leave users with charges for calls to long-distance numbers or pay-per-call sites.
Top 10 Adwares
Premium service abusers also topped the list of most commonly seen Android malware in 2012. Often disguised as popular apps, they are designed to trick users into installing them. We spotted a rogue version of the game "Bad Piggies," which was actually a FAKEINST variant. SMSBOXER variants spoof several best-selling Android apps, including "Angry Birds Space" and Instagram. GAPPUSIN variants, meanwhile, download other malicious apps and steal information from infected devices.
Top 10 Infected Countries
Nigeria was the country with the most malicious apps downloaded, followed by Peru and India. Other countries in the top 30 include New Zealand (17), Germany (24), and the U.S. (26).
Top 10 Countries at Risk of Privacy
India topped the list, followed by Turkey and the Philippines. Other countries in the top 30 include Germany (15), Australia (16), and the U.K. (19).
Source: Trend Micro Report (PDF)