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Money-Stealing Android Malware Proliferates in North America, Europe

North American and European Android users face the greatest chance of having their money stolen, while Asians tend to be bombarded with annoying ads and shortcuts from aggressive adware, according to a study by Bitdefender®.

Countries with a high risk of being infected by money-stealing Android malware include the United States (16%), France (15%), Romania (15%), the United Kingdom (10%) and Germany (9%) that account for almost 65% of all malware reports in Europe and North America.

Money-Stealing Android Malware Proliferates in North America, Europe

Meanwhile, annoying, aggressive adware proliferated mainly in Asia, with 50 per cent of all such adware, and some 53 percent of that in India, according to the study results. While not considered malware, adware can interfere with user experience on the Android platform.

“European and North American Android users need to be weary of Android Trojans that reach for their pockets,” said Chief Security Strategist, Catalin Cosoi. “During 2013 we expect to see a rampant increase of malware, directly proportional with the number of users that acquire Android devices.”

Adware and aggressive adware can irk users by changing their default browser search engine, placing additional shortcuts on their desktops and displaying more ads than regular apps. Apps bundled with aggressive adware may slow down users’ smartphones to the point of making them unresponsive. Battery drainage is also a side effect caused by unsolicited ads. The more apps bundled with aggressive adware are installed on a device, the more battery they will drain.

Developers use adware libraries mainly to generate legitimate revenue through pay-per-click ads.  When users click on ads shown within an app or outside of it they add extra cents to the coders’ bank accounts.

The study was conducted on Android devices equipped with the Bitdefender mobile security solution, between Jan. 1 and Dec. 1, 2012.

Both malware and adware reports jumped 292 per cent in the second half of 2012 from the first half. The ranking Android malware families that specifically trick users into sending SMS messages to premium-rated numbers or into paying for free apps – namely  Android.Trojan.SMSSend and Android.Trojan.FakeInst – account for 67 percent of all reported global malware in the second half of 2012.

To repel malware and apps bundled with aggressive adware, Bitdefender recommends a mobile security solution that’s capable of detecting and notifying users of such behaviors. Carefully reading permissions and downloading apps from official marketplaces considerably reduces the risk of being exposed to malicious apps. Predicting that drive-by Android malware served through malicious links embedded in spam messages will increase in frequency during 2013, we encourage users to disable the “Allow installation of non-Marketplace applications” option from the Applications menu.

All product and company names mentioned herein are for identification purposes only and are the property of, and may be trademarks of, their respective owners.

This article is based on the technical information provided courtesy of Bitdefender Labs.

About The Author

Security Researcher

Liviu Arsene is the proud owner of the secret to the fountain of never-ending energy. That’s what’s been helping him work his everything off as a passionate tech news editor for the past couple of years. He is the youngest and most restless member of the Bitdefender writer team and he covers mobile malware and security topics with fervor and a twist. His passions revolve around gadgets and technology, and he’s always ready to write about what’s hot and trendy out there in geek universe.

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