Talk of smartphone viruses has existed almost as long as smartphones themselves, but the advent of apps seems to be finally bringing the problem to the mainstream.
Trend Micro has just found a problem with a malicious application that mimics the mobile version of Skype on Android devices and older versions of the Symbian operating system running Java MIDlet. The application will send SMSes to premium rate numbers without the user knowing about it, opening the potential for some serious financial fraud.
Android’s popularity, it seems, is also its greatest weakness. Trend Micro states half of the 10,000 new malicious applications it discovered in the first quarter of 2012 target the Google smartphone platform, and predicts that 129,000 infected Android apps will be found in total by the year-end.
The firm’s analysis also shows that users are leaving themselves open to these new threats – revealing that just 20% of Android subscribers have installed security applications.
Trend Micro’s figures come as reports of the first smartphone botnet surface – again affecting Android devices. However, it’s important to note that the report comes from a Microsoft researcher, and so may not be entirely unbiased.