Android may be the most popular mobile operating system on the planet, but now it is also the system most targeted by malware.

In fact, malware targeting Google’s Android platform increased nearly six-fold in the third quarter this year — from 30,000 malicious and potentially dangerous apps in June to almost 175,000 in September, a report  released Oct. 22 by Trend Micro has found. The fact that only 20 percent of Android device owners use a security app does not help.

“It’s actually no surprise that we see such a huge increase in mobile malware,” says Trend Micro CTO Raimund Genes. “Android is the dominant Smartphone platform with an amazing success story. The digital underground reads the statistics and analysts reports as well, and they figured out way to make money with mobile malware. And unlike your computer, getting information from your phone also reveals your location, the phone numbers you have called – and more – all stuff which could be sold.”

The most common way to release malware on Android Smartphones is through fake versions of legitimate apps. The number of aggressive mobile adware also has skyrocketed.

“Though most adware is designed to collect user information, a fine line exists between collecting data for simple advertising and violating one’s privacy,” the report states.

“We also identified several adware that pose serious privacy-related threats. Apps that access your call history without informing you via an end-user license agreement (EULA) or their user interface (UI) constitute malicious behavior from a security perspective and are detected.”

The report also identifies the top spam-sending countries in the world. Saudi Arabia tops the list at 21 percent, with India taking the second slot at eight percent. Turkey and the United States tied for third with eight percent, followed by Peru at four percent and Brazil at three percent.

More key data:

• Dangerous zero-day exploits targeting Java and Internet Explorer (IE) were found. The IE vulnerability was used in an advanced persistent threat campaign.

• ZeroAccess malware, often on peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing sites, was the top infector in the computing public this quarter. The old DOWNAD/ Conficker worm was a close second.

• PayPal attracted the most phishermen while Linkedin was the top Blackhole Exploit Kit target.

• Corporations and governments remain viable APT targets. Lurid and Nitro APT campaign improvements were also noted.

• Social media threats and privacy concerns continue — Only 50 percent of Facebook users check their privacy settings every two to three months.

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Android Top Target for Malware

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