Android devices seen remaining as top target for cyber attacks in 2012

Monday, December 5, 2011

Mobile devices will be one of the main targets for cyber attacks in 2012 in Latin America, particularly those running on Android, according to a study by Slovakian antivirus and security software developer Eset.

New malicious codes will not be the only threat for mobile devices; online frauds are also among the most important for next year, Eset said.

The study indicates that 70% of 41 new variants of malicious codes analyzed by Eset appeared during the second half of 2011, making the period the one with the highest growth rate in malicious codes for the Android platform in the last two years. The growing penetration of Android-run phones is seen as the main reason for this trend, according to Eset.

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ICT consultancy Gartner said that Android was the leading mobile operating system as of June 2011 with over 400mn devices worldwide and 550,000 new Android devices being activated every day.

In addition, Eset anticipates an increased impact caused by malware in mobile devices, such as the case with DroidDream, a threat packaged inside seemingly legitimate applications that reached over 250,000 downloads from the Android Market. The impact was such that Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) decided to remotely uninstall all affected applications.

"Though the mobile and desktop worlds are different in terms of the amount of devices and threats, developers of malicious codes have found in Android many features found years ago in Windows XP," said Sebastián Bortnik, awareness and research coordinator at Eset Latin America.

On the other hand, the evolution of security technologies for desktop platforms and the progressive migration from Windows XP to Windows 7 will force cyber attackers to develop more complex threats.

New malicious codes will have to include features designed to achieve system implementation before the attack itself is carried out. As a result, 2012 is expected to see more malicious codes capable of breaching digital signature systems incorporated in newer operating systems.

Together with the development of more complex threats, extremely simple codes such as those used for social engineering threats have also increased during the second half of 2011, which is expected to continue during 2012.