Smartphone malware threat to rival desktops in 2013

With smartphones and tablets accounting for an ever increasing amount of online activity, 2013 will see portable devices targeted by malware as often as traditional desktop computers, internet security giant Kaspersky Lab has suggested.

Claiming that cybercriminals are set to increase “drive-by download” attacks within the coming months, Kaspersky Lab has suggested that the coming year will see mobile threats rival those on standard computers, with Google’s Android OS to be the target of many of the attacks.

“2012 has been the year of the explosive growth of mobile malware, with cybercriminals’ primary focus being the Android platform, as it was the most popular and widely used,” an official Kaspersky spokesperson has stated in the company’s 2013 predictions report.

“In 2013 we are likely to see a new alarming trend – the use of vulnerabilities to extend ‘drive-by download’ attacks on mobile devices. This means that personal and corporate data stored on smartphones and tablets will be targeted as frequently as it is targeted on traditional computers.”

As well drive-by download attacks, the Kaspersky report has suggested that 2013 could see the first smartphone based worms introduced. “There is also a high probability that the first mass worm for Android will appear, capable of spreading itself via text messages and sending out links to itself at some online app store,” the company suggested.

Expanding on the recent rise of Android based malware, Kaspersky added: “In June 2012 we identified almost 7,000 malicious Android programs. Overall, in 2012, we identified more than 35,000 malicious Android programs, which is about six times more than in 2011. That’s also about five times more than all the malicious Android samples we’ve received since 2005 altogether.”

They added: “Looking forward, there is no doubt this trend will continue, just like it did with Windows malware many years ago. We are therefore expecting 2013 to be filled with targeted attacks against Android users, zero-days and data leaks.”

Whilst users of Google’s hugely popular Android system are likely to be put at the most risk, Kaspersky has stressed that it is far from the only target for mobile based malicious attacks with iPhone users also at considerable risk. “For the same reasons (rising popularity), new sophisticated attacks will be performed against owners of Apple devices as well,” the company spokesperson added.

Have you protected your handset and tablet from malware threats or have you always considered that more of a desktop based issue? Let us know via the Trusted Reviews Twitter and Facebook feeds or through the comment boxes below.

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