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Mobile Malware Makes Mobile Banking Treacherous

Kaspersky Lab report shows rate of mobile malware occurrence exploding in Q3.

The number of mobile threats percolating on devices worldwide has risen precipitously this year—over three-fold, according to a new report out by Kaspersky Lab. And though the occurrence of enterprise breaches caused by mobile devices continues to be questioned by experts, attackers do seem to be profiting from their attacks by targeting individual users’ bank accounts.

Kaspersky’s Q3 Threat Evolution report examined activity in its network of users and found an increase in the number of mobile threats, the number of mobile malware attempts at stealing from consumer bank accounts, and the number of mobile bank Trojans active in the last quarter.

“Malicious mobile programs are on the rise and in countries where online banking is popular, people are at considerable risk from Trojans looking to target them,” says David Emm, principal senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab's Global Research and Analysis team. According to his team, last quarter they found over 1.6 million malicious mobile installation packages circulating, including 323,000 new malicious mobile programs and 2,500 mobile banker Trojans. The number of mobile banker Trojans increased four-fold in just a single quarter, making it the fastest growing category of mobile threats in the wild.

But the still undisputed king of mobile malware is malvertising, which continues to pour it on strong in volume and diversity of attacks.

"We have also observed a growing number of programs that use advertising as the main monetization method while also using other methods from the virus writers’ arsenal," Em says. "They often root the device of a victim and use superuser privileges, making it very difficult, if not impossible, to combat them. In Q3 2015, these Trojans accounted for more than half of the Top 20 most popular mobile malware."

The tried and true SMS Trojan scam also continues to proliferate, sending paid messages from infected devices without permission. Researchers report that even though its share of the mobile criminal underground is declining, its still leads in the number of new samples detected.

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