Report: Android malware threats increased 37% in Q3

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The threat of malware on Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform continued to grow in the third quarter, with the amount of malware targeted at Android devices spiking 37 percent from the second quarter, according to a new report from security firm McAfee.

The research from McAfee showed that nearly all new mobile malware found in the third quarter was targeted at Android, which powered 52.5 percent of all smartphone sales worldwide in the quarter, according to Gartner. McAfee said the increase in malware puts 2011 to be the busiest year for mobile and general malware in history.

MacAfee increased its year-end estimate for malware to 75 million pieces of malware that it could identify, up from a previous estimate of 70 million. According to the company, total mobile malware samples reached more than 1,200 in the third quarter, up from a little more than 900 in the year-ago period.

While Symbian remains the platform with the all-time greatest number of malware, Android became the most popular platform for new malware in the quarter. McAfee said, "Android is clearly today's target." The McAfee numbers fit with a recent report from Juniper Networks, which said malware samples identified in the Android Market increased 472 percent since July 2011. Juniper blamed the outbreak on the storefront's lack of a reliable upfront preview process and the absence of related checks and balances.

The months of October and November 2011 have seen an explosion in malicious Android apps, Juniper reports--October alone experienced a month-over-month increase of 110 percent, and November is on pace to grow another 111 percent. By comparison, Juniper identified a 400 percent increase in Android malware from 2009 to the summer of 2010.

The rise in malware has been a boon to security companies like McAfee and Juniper as well as smaller firms including Lookout Mobile Security. In September Lookout closed a new round of venture financing totaling $40 million, bringing total investment in the firm to $75 million. Andreessen Horowitz led the latest round, with existing investors Khosla Ventures, Accel Partners and Index Ventures also participating.

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