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It should not be a surprise, but Android vulnerabilities top the list of growing concerns in a new security survey just released.

Joining Android vulnerabilities was an increase in online banking threats and availability of sophisticated, inexpensive malware toolkits in Trend Micro’s Q2 2013 Security Roundup Report.

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The report describes cyber security threats from the previous quarter combined with analysis to evaluate and anticipate emerging attacks.

Because of their extreme popularity, Android devices fall in the crosshairs of hackers as threats proliferate and the user-base expands with little thought given to security, the report said. The survey showed the number of malicious and high-risk Android apps has grown to 718,000 in the second quarter, a big increase from the 509,000 high-risk apps found in the previous quarter.

Cyber Security

These malicious apps are on track to exceed one million by year’s end, as predicted by Trend Micro in the 2013 forecast. By way of comparison, it took a decade for PC malware to amass this number.

Only 30 percent of all Android smartphones and tablets in the U.S., have any type of security app installed today, said Linda Barrabee, research director, Connected Intelligence at The NPD Group. This fact, combined with the Android network’s systemic problems leave a large number of Android devices exposed to a risk that will continue to spread, Trend Micro researchers said.

“Due to the fractured nature of the Android network, it is very difficult for patches to reach all users in an effective timeframe. In some cases, users will never get patches as vendors leave their customers at risk of attack,” said JD Sherry, vice president, technology and solutions at Trend Micro. “Until we have the same urgency to protect mobile devices as we have for protecting PCs, this very real threat will continue to grow rapidly. At the rate this malware is accelerating – almost exponentially – we appear to be reaching a critical mass. To fight this, Android users need to take great care when using their devices and take the simple, but effective, step of adding security software to all mobile devices.”

The Trend Micro report also warned of increasing hazards to online banking, which saw malware increasing 29 percent from the previous quarter, from 113,000 to 146,000 infections. The U.S. was the top target of malware, with more than one million instances amounting to 28 percent of global compromises, followed by Brazil at 22 percent and Australia at five percent.

Preventative measures, such as closely monitoring account activity and using third-party security solutions, will help mitigate this growing threat.

Adding to this onslaught of cyber security risks, the Trend Micro report found the methods for selling malware toolkits have evolved. Sophisticated malicious tools are now for sale via inexpensive, free or bundled pricing schemes, such as two-for-one packages.
The ease of access to these effective malware toolkits increases the hazards Internet users will face going into the remainder of 2013 and beyond.

Click here for the complete report.

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