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The number of mobile malware threats increased by 614 percent from March 2012 to March 2013, a new report said.

Over that one-year period a total of 276,259 malicious apps ended up identified, according to the Juniper Networks annual Mobile Threats Report, a study based on information collected by the company’s Mobile Threat Center.

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Ransomware Attacks Android Devices
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Ransomware Encrypts Data

While it is no big surprise, cyber criminals continue to focus on the Android platform, 92 percent of the pieces of malware identified by the Mobile Threat Center aimed at Google’s operating system. In 2010, only 24 percent of mobile malware targeted Android.

When it comes to the distribution of mobile malware, cyber criminals usually rely on third-party application stores.

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Experts identified over 500 Android app stores worldwide, quite a few of them distribute malware because they have low levels of oversight and accountability. Around 60 percent of these third-party app stores are in Russia or China.

Fake Installers or SMS Trojans continue to be the most popular among cybercriminals because they can bring quick profit.

Cyber criminals fully exploit the fragmentation of the Android ecosystem. According to Google’s own figures, only 3 percent of Android users are running the latest version of the operating systems, which means there are plenty of victims to choose from.

“With mobile malware on the rise and attackers becoming increasingly clever, we need better protection for mobile users and corporations,” said Michael Callahan, vice president of global product marketing for the Security Business at Juniper Networks.

“While on one hand the OEMs, carriers and software vendors must collaborate to develop platforms that mitigate large threats, enterprises and government organizations need to take a comprehensive look at protecting their data and networks by adopting a holistic approach to mobile security.”

Click here to review an executive summary of the Juniper Networks report.

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