RiskIQ today announced research findings on the presence of malicious apps contained in the Google Play store. The company found that malicious Android apps have grown 388 percent from 2011 to 2013, while the number of malicious Android apps removed annually by Google has dropped from 60% in 2011 to 23% in 2013. Apps for personalizing Android phones led all categories as most likely to be malicious.

The results were gathered by the RiskIQ for Mobile service, which continuously monitors mobile application stores to detect suspect applications, application tampering and brand impersonation. For this survey, RiskIQ counted Android apps in the Google Play store as malicious only if they are/contain spyware and (SMS) Trojans that:

● Collect and send GPS coordinates, contact lists, e-mail addresses etc. to third parties
● Send SMS messages to premium-rate numbers
● Subscribe infected phones to premium services
● Record phone conversations and send them to attackers
● Take control over the infected phone
● Download other malware onto infected phones

“The explosive growth of mobile apps has attracted a criminal element looking for new ways to distribute malware that can be used to commit fraud, identity theft and steal confidential data,” said Elias Manousos CEO of RiskIQ in a statement. “Malicious apps are an effective way to infect users since they often exploit the trust victims have in well known brands and companies they do business with like banks, insurance companies, healthcare providers and merchants. Our unique visibility directly into App Stores allows us to shine a light on this problem and prevent attackers from impersonating brands to exploit their customers.”

Using a distributed global proxy network RiskIQ continuously scans and interacts with mobile apps in leading app stores via synthetic clients that emulate real users. This patent-pending technology exposes malware that would otherwise not “show itself” to traditional web crawler software. The highlights of the RiskIQ for Mobile research on the Google Play store include:

Percentage of Malicious Android Apps:

  • 2011: 2.7%
  • 2012: 9.2%
  • 2013: 12.7%

Percentage of Malicious Android Apps Removed:

  • 2011: 60%
  • 2012: 40%
  • 2013: 23%

Top Five Android App Categories with Most Malware:

2011 2012 2013
1. Entertainment 1. Personalization 1. Personalization
2. Education/Books 2. Entertainment 2. Entertainment
3. Media/Audio/Video 3. Education/Books 3. Education/Books
4. Personalization 4. Media/Audio.Video 4. Media/Audio.Video
5. Sports 5. Sports 5. Sports

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: “Open.”

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers "Brawndo Drinker" and "Robert" for the heads up.]

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