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F-Secure’s latest Mobile Threat Report finds that the vast majority (99%) of new mobile malware strains detected in the first quarter of 2014 are designed to target Android devices, up from 91% in the first quarter of 2013.

“These developments give us signs to the direction of malware authors,” says Mikko Hyppönen, Chief Research Officer at F-Secure. “We’ll very likely see more of these in the coming months. For example, mobile phones are getting more powerful, making it possible for cybercriminals to profit by using them to mine for cryptocurrencies.”

Key findings in the report include:

  • 277 new threat families and variants were discovered, 275 of which targeted Android, one iPhone, and one Symbian
  • Great Britain experienced the highest level of mobile malware measured by F-Secure in Q1, with 15-20 malware files blocked per 10,000 users
  • US, India and Germany all had 5 to 10 malware blocked for every 10,000 users
  • Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands, 2 to 5 malware were blocked per 10,000 users

The report also reveals that 83% of mobile trojans send SMS messages to premium numbers or SMS-based subscription services, the most common malicious activity, while other malware was designed to do the following:

  • Download or install unsolicited files or apps onto the device
  • Silently track device location or audio/video to monitor the user
  • Pretend to be a mobile AV solution but actually having no useful functionality
  • Silent connect to websites in order to inflate the site’s visit counters
  • Silent monitor and divert banking-related SMS messages for fraud
  • Steal personal data like files, contacts, photos and other private details
  • Charge a ‘fee’ for use, update or installation of a legitimate and usually free app

“The first quarter also saw a number of firsts for Android malware. This indicates the mobile threatscape is continuing to develop in sophistication and complexity,” the company said.

“The quarter saw the first cryptocurrency miner, which hijacks the device to mine for virtual currencies such as Litecoin. It saw the first bootkit, which affects the earliest stages of the device’s bootup routine and is extremely difficult to detect and remove. It saw the first Tor trojan and the first Windows banking trojan hopping over to Android.”

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