Finnish security firm F-Secure has released its Mobile Threat Report for the fourth quarter of 2012. The study shows that while Android malware continues its upward trend, the number of malicious elements that target Symbian have recorded an abrupt drop.
Malware targeting Symbian accounts for only 4% of all the mobile threats identified by F-Secure in Q4 2012. The drop is significant considering that Symbian malware accounted for an average of 26% in the first three quarters of 2012.
However, this isn’t really surprising considering that Symbian is no longer installed on new devices.
“Malware in general has a parasitic relationship with its host,” explained Sean Sullivan, Security Advisor at F-Secure Labs.
“As old Symbian handsets continue to be replaced by those with other operating systems, especially Android, Symbian malware dies off and will probably go extinct in 2013. May it rest in peace.”
As far as Android malware is concerned, 301 new threat families and variations were identified last year. In total, Android malware accounted for 79% of all threats, representing a 13% increase compared to 2011.
While most of the malicious elements (66%) found in 2012 were Trojans, experts believe their numbers will drop in the future because Google’s recently-released Android 4.2 comes with additional security mechanisms that should deflect such threats.
On the other hand, it’s expected that surveillance-related threats will become more widespread.
21 of the 96 Android malware variants were helping their masterminds make a profit by sending SMS messages from the compromised devices to premium rate numbers. Other threats sign up victims to paid SMS services.
These types of malware are dangerous because they’re designed to send messages and subscribe users to various services without raising any suspicion. When the victim notices the large phone bill, it might be too late.
The complete F-Secure Mobile Threat report is available here