Trend Micro: Five times more malware found on Android devices than PCs in 2012

Android robot

Security vendor Trend Micro has shed some light on the scale of the malware problems blighting Android users, after discovering 350,000 threats to the mobile platform in 2012.

The company claims there was nearly five times more malware found on Android devices during 2012 than on Windows-based ones.

Criminals will be looking for ways to exploit other connected devices in the future.

"Malware growth reached [a ratio of] 14:3 for Android verses PC [in 2012], and it only took Android three years to reach the PC volume of malware threats achieved within 14 years," said Trend Micro in a statement.

The company claims that only a fifth of Android device owners have a security app installed on their smartphone or tablet, which could spell trouble for users in future.

"By the end of 2012, there were 350,000 threats facing this relatively new mobile platform...[and] Trend Micro predicts that Android threats will increase to one million in 2013," the company added.

The firm's Android security findings formed part of a wider investigation by Trend Micro into the threats PC and mobile users faced in 2012.

Other issues flagged by the firm include the risk posed to enterprises by social media sites, data breaches and attacks on Oracle's Java platform.

"Social media platforms continued to grow as areas of concern with attackers targeting them more, users putting themselves at risk by oversharing on them, and the legitimate services being co-opted to support cybercriminal activities," said the company.

"Enterprises suffered from data breaches and targeted attacks at an alarming rate...and attackers adopted more professional software development practices," it added.

Meanwhile, Rik Ferguson, vice president of security research at Trend Micro, said along with the threats already mentioned end users should also be on their guard against the threat posed by other connected devices.

"With the advent of IPv6 opening up the available address space and the rise of the smart device, we can expect to see many more [electronic appliances] being brought online," said Ferguson.

"Each of these connected devices must run an operating system...[and] Android is already the criminals mobile OS of choice, [so] it is not too much of a stretch to think of criminals looking for ways to exploit other connected devices in the future."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.