As Android zips past iOS as the mobile platform of the masses, it has mirrored Windows' role in the PC-Mac wars in two ways: 1) its open strategy has allowed it to become far more widespread and 2) due to its ubiquity, it has become the target of choice for hackers, criminals, and other assorted nefarious codemonkeys.
Russian cyber security firm Kaspersky Labs has found that the volume of Android-targeting malware has tripled in the last quarter alone, adding more than 14,900 new malicious programs.
According to the firm's data, half of all the new Android malware programs were "Multifunctional Trojans": those designed to steal data or even to download and update apps without the users' knowledge. A quarter of the nefarious software were so-called "SMS Trojans," which send SMS messages to premium-rate numbers without the owner's consent. And another 18% were "Backdoor" threats that would give the bad guys full control over an unsuspecting user's device.
Yuri Namestnikov, Senior Malware Analyst at Kaspersky Lab commented in a company release "In the near future, we expect not only more malware, but more effective and dangerous malware targeting Android. Judging from existing trends, we should expect that cybercriminals will soon shift to more personalised attacks. This is primarily about malware hunting for confidential data with which to steal money from users' credit cards."
While iOS hasn't been devoid of its own malware issues, the platform will likely remain less vulnerable than Android because of the App Store's curated nature and because there are simply fewer
targets devices running iOS. Still, to the company's credit, Apple has still invested a lot in security (to the point of earning the ire of law enforcement because their encryption software is a little too efficient).
As our devices evolve into wallets, this is a problem that will require both prepared manufacturers and informed consumers.