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Last year was a bumper crop year for malicious installations — in fact, 2016 featured a near-threefold rise in mobile malware detections compared to 2015.  About 8.5 million malicious installations have been identified.

This finding is just one of the highlights of Kaspersky Lab’s annual “Mobile Virusology” report, which also documents the evolution of mobile banking Trojans.

“This means that, in the space of just one year, a volume equivalent to 50 percent of all the malware detected in the previous 11 years (15.77 million in 2004 – 2015) was released,” note the report authors. “Leading the way were mobile advertising Trojans which now make up 16 of the top 20 malicious programs, up from 12 in 2015.”

The Kaspersky Lab report also reveals that in 2016:

  • There were nearly 40 million attack attempts by mobile malware, with over 4 million users of Android-based devices protected (vs 2.6 million in 2015)
  • More than 260,000 detections of installation packages for mobile ransomware Trojans (an increase of almost 8.5 times, year-on-year) were found
  • More than 153,000 unique users were targeted by mobile ransomware (an increase of 1.6 times compared with 2015)
  • More than 128,000 mobile banking Trojans were detected (nearly 1.6 times more than in 2015)

“The most widespread type of Trojan in 2016 was the advertising variety, accounting for 16 of the top 20 malware programs,” the report notes. “These Trojans are capable of seizing rooting rights, allowing the malware to not only aggressively display ads on the infected device, often making it impossible to use, but also to secretly install other applications. These Trojans can also buy apps on Google Play.”

Unfortunately, because many users failed to install updates, Trojans were able to exploit vulnerabilities.

Mobile banking Trojans remain “a skyrocketing threat.”

“In 2016, more than 305,000 users in 164 countries were attacked by mobile banking Trojans, compared with over 56,000 users in 137 countries the previous year,” the report concludes. “Russia, Australia, and Ukraine are the top three countries affected in terms of the percentage of users attacked by mobile banking Trojans relative to all users hit by mobile malware,” according to the provided report summary.

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