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Over 65,000 mobile malware threats ended up discovered in 2012 and that was an increase of 163 percent over the previous year, a new study said.

Nearly 95 percent of all mobile malware discovered in 2012 targeted the Android OS, according to a new security report released by NQ Mobile Inc. The top three methods for delivering malware in 2012 were application repackaging, malicious URLs, and SMiShing.

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These forms of malware helped infect an estimated 32.8 million Android devices in 2012 — an increase of more than 200 percent over 2011, the report said.

“In the first quarter of 2013, mobile malware threats continued to grow and have become smarter,” NQ Mobile said. “In February of this year, a new type of mobile malware was discovered that could jump from an Android device to infect a PC when they were connected via the USB port.” Only a few Android devices ended up infected, the company said.

Cyber Security

NQ Mobile Security Labs also found increased collaboration between mobile hackers and cyber criminals, the report said.

“These unlawful collaborations can have disastrous effects on consumers,” NQ Mobile states. “Mobile hackers are using malware to capture consumers’ private information, and then selling this information to cyber criminals, who are in turn using social engineering tactics to gain access to the consumers’ finances.”

The top five markets for infected mobile devices were China (25.5 percent), India (19.4 percent), Russia (17.9 percent), the United States (9.8 percent), and Saudi Arabia (9.6 percent), the study reports.

Sixty-five percent of malware discovered in 2012 falls into a broader category of Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs). PUPs include root exploits, spyware, pervasive adware, and Trojans.

NQ Mobile estimates that more than 10 million devices have already suffered infection in the first quarter of 2013.

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