Image: Stephen Shankland/CNET
A new instance of Android malware pops up nearly every 10 seconds, according to a report from security firm G DATA. The information is especially troubling, given that Android commands 81.7% of mobile OS market share worldwide, according to Gartner data.
If new malware every 10 seconds sounds a little too frequent, let’s break the numbers down. G DATA security researchers found over 750,000 new Android malware apps in Q1 2017, which translates to about 8,400 new malware instances every day, the report said. Given that there are 86,400 seconds in a single day, if that number is divided by 8,400 it comes to roughly 10.29 seconds.
According to the G DATA report, some 3.2 million new Android malware files were discovered in 2016. For 2017, G DATA expects that number to hit 3.5 million.
The report claims that Android’s fragmentation is to blame for the growth of the malware, with a paltry 7.1% of Android users running the latest version of the OS, Android 7.0 or 7.1 Nougat. The April 2017 Android developer dashboard from Google shows that 32% of users are running Android 5.0 or 5.1 Lollipop, while 31.2% of users are running Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
The big issue with fragmentation has to do with updates. If a given device is running an older version of Android, it won’t necessarily be protected from emerging threats that are addressed in later versions. Patches and updates often have to go through an OEM partner first, before they are pushed to the phone.
To avoid malware, start with your app store. Don’t download apps from third-party app stores, if possible. Instead focus on the Google Play Store. Also, a lot of malware comes from phishing, so be careful when opening emails from unfamiliar contacts, especially when it contains a link or attachment.
Removing malware is a little more difficult. Try an antivirus application, or you can reboot your phone into safe mode and try to remove the malware that way.
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- A recent report from G DATA said that a new instance of malware is discovered every 20 seconds or so, which will lead to 3.5 million Android malware files this year.
- The prevalence of malware is due, in part, to Android fragmentation, as users running older versions of the software are easier to target.
- Be careful when downloading applications and opening emails from unknown senders to help avoid malware infection.