November 16, 2011, 3:31 PM — Malware is becoming a much bigger problem much faster than anyone expected on Android smartphones and tablets. Much faster, too.
The risk to consumers' privacy is probably still far greater from the snoopy, gossipy permission requirements on Android apps that automatically take permission to ID your location, your friends, your activities and send copies home to their developers to help "improve customer support."
Or the risk might be greater from what is apparently a flood of law-enforcement agencies pouring every phone number they can grab into the same bucket marked "possible suspects" and handing it to cell phone carriers with a request for a list of all the calls made to or from each of those numbers, on the off chance someone, somewhere in America is plotting something illegal using a cell phone.
Or it could be that phones running Android are outselling iPhone – taking up 52 percent of blobal sales compared to 15 percent for iPhone.
That's a big market that requires a big response. Malware writers have never been shy about stepping forward into a gap through which money might be extracted.
According to Juniper Networks the number of samples of malware designed for Android leaped 472 percent between July, 2011 and Nov. 10.
According to Juniper there was a 400 percent increase in android malware between the summers of 2009 and 2010. That was in a whole year. The 472 percent was for five months. That's an increase of 110 percent in September and another 111 percent in November – and a projected annual growth of approximately 1,320 percent.
That number sounds ridiculous, but Juniper's growth curve keeps getting steeper during 2011 and into 2012, so it may actually be an underestimate.
Of those, 55 percent are spyware that collect data on location, contacts, activities and similar information.
About 44 percent are SMS Trojans that connect to the net along with a legitimate application and send SMS messages to numbers that charge a high per-message premium call fee. The anonymous owners of the number and the malware charge the cell company – which charges you – premium access fees similar to the $1.99 per vote American Idol charges or high per-minute charges tech support or sex lines charge.