New Delhi: The majority of mobile malware detected in 2017 were Ad Clicker Trojans, which fraudulently manipulate mobile ads in the background to generate revenue for the author of the app, said a report released on Tuesday by McAfee, a cyber security company.
Currently, such malware has the potential to bring in revenue of $1 million-$2 million per year for their authors. If mobile malware continues on its current trajectory, the figure might reach the billion-dollar mark by 2020, the report said.
“Given that mobile ad spending is a billion-dollar industry and relatively a new field, the business is a target ripe for fraud," the report said.
The report titled Mobile Threat Report highlights threat campaigns targeting mobile devices on Google Play—the official app store for the Android operating system—were higher in 2017 as compared to previous few years.
“It should come as no surprise that independent tests of the detection capabilities of Google Play Protect show that the built-in security measures failed to detect or protect against the most common malware threats campaigns," the report said.
When tested in an independent test against threats discovered in the past 90 days, Google Play Protect failed to pass, it added.
Google Play Protect isn’t a standalone app but a feature in Play Store set by default. It essentially scans all the apps downloaded on Play Store. Google launched this initiative in 2017 to keep users and their devices safe from malicious apps.
Google Play Protect runs on over 2 billion devices and is probably the most widely used malware scanner in the world.
The report states that there has been a shift in malware attacks over the years. It has evolved from traditional attack vectors, such as premium text messages and toll fraud to botnet ad fraud, pay-per-download distribution scams, and crypto mining malware that can generate millions in revenue.
“We have seen a jump in cryptocurrency malware by 70% (including a 5% increase in cryptocurrency activity on Google Play) and a 60% increase in mobile banking Trojans in the last year alone," the report highlights.
“The number of threat families we found in the Google Play store increased by a whopping 30% in the last year, making even the official Android app store a risky proposition for users," the report added.
The findings of the report come as a major cause of concern for Android phone users who use Google Play Store for downloading various applications. Google sees about 8 billion installs per month across the world.
Last year, there was also an increase in malicious banking Trojans, such as the Android/Marcher malware, that take advantage of the auto install vulnerabilities in the Android platform.
They victimized millions of Google Play users by impersonating legitimate apps for video players, Flash players, games, and system utilities, the report added.
McAfee Labs detected over 16 million mobile malware infestations in the third quarter of 2017 alone, nearly doubling the number seen a year earlier, it said in the report.
According to the report, Russia, China, and South Korea suffered the greatest number of infections.