The sudden and significant rise of smartphones and other mobile devices was sure to attract the attention of cybercriminals. Just as they did (and still do) with traditional computers, hackers and other ne'er-do-wells see an opportunity to exploit mobile users to obtain sensitive personal and financial data.
This, to some degree, could be expected. New technology always poses some sort of data security vulnerability. But a recent study from G Data Security Labs put a figure on the growth of mobile malware that some would consider shocking.
Just as the rise of smartphones and tablets was unprecedented, so was the rise of malware targeting such devices. According to G Data, mobile malware increased by more than 270 percent between the first half of 2011 and the first half of 2010.
As a V3.co.uk report highlighting the study points out, Trojans were the most common mobile malware threat during early 2011. Google's mobile operating system Android was hit particularly hard, as cybercriminals see its openness as a welcome sign for mayhem. DroidDream and Zsone were two of the most significant Android threats during the first half of the year.
Additionally, as Trend Micro's second quarter Threat Roundup notes, ANDROIDOS_ADSMS.A, ANDROIDOS_DORDREA.L AND ANDROIDOS_CRUSEWIN.A have also plagued Android users in various parts of the world this year.
According to an April 2011 study from research firm Gartner, smartphone shipments are expected to reach 468 million units this year, a 57.7 percent increase from 2010. Additionally, Android is expected to take over as the world's No. 1 mobile operating system this year, with 38.5 percent of the global market share.
Android isn't the only vulnerable platform though. Apple's iOS, Microsoft's Windows Phone and all other mobile operating systems can be hit by cybercriminals as well, though, to date, attacks on these platforms are less common than those targeting Android.
This is worrisome for obvious reasons. But that doesn't mean mobile users are at the mercy of cybercriminals. For example, by downloading apps from only reputable sources, the chances of installing a bit of malware are significantly deceased. Additionally, mobile security tools and antivirus software can scan apps and detect malware before it becomes a threat.
Regardless of the mobile operating system, with good habits and the right tools, mobile users can drastically reduce the threat of mobile malware.