The number of malicious apps for Google’s Android operating system has quadrupled since the beginning of 2012, according to research from Japanese security software vendor Trend Micro.
Trend Micro said it found 5,000 malicious Android apps in the first three months of this year, but that had increased to 20,000 by June. The past month alone saw the number of malicious apps double from 10,000. The company said the apps were "downloaded over 700,000 times before they were spotted and removed from the site".
Rik Ferguson, director of security research at Trend Micro, said that the increasing amount of malware was evidence of a "sustained and focused" criminal interest in Android. "Criminals have always followed user behaviour and they continue to do so. Mobile devices offer new avenues for criminal revenue generation alongside the continuation of the old," he said.
The malware discovered by Trend Micro served a range of malicious purposes, including stealing the user’s personal data, forcing them to click on adverts and tricking them into using premium rate SMS services. Some malware even turned Android phones into parts of a botnet.
Trend-Micro’s research fits with the picture given by F-Secure. In May, the security vendor said that it found more than 3,000 malicious Android apps in the first quarter of 2012, up from just about 100 in the same quarter of 2011.