A growing crop of malware for the Android platform, combined with lingering vulnerabilities in Apple iOS, could leave as many as one in every 20 devices infected with malware by 2012.
Security firm Trusteer said that rising malware levels will push total infections over the five per cent mark within the next one to two years.
The prediction is based largely on an Android market which Trusteer chief executive Mickey Boodaei described as "a fraudster's heaven".
"Android's security architecture is not currently up to the challenge," he said in a Mobile Malware report. "This is reflected mainly in the ease of generating powerful fraudulent applications and the ease of distributing these applications."
Boodaei explained that the ease with which a malicious piece of Android software can be developed is made even more apparent when paired with the lax security controls on the Android market which have been exploited by malware developers.
Apple's iOS platform is not immune either, according to Boodaei. The tight screening process of the App Store keeps potential malware outbreaks off the service, but those who operate outside the App Store are vulnerable.
Boodaei explained that 'jailbroken' handsets are at risk of attack, and that new techniques for jailbreaking devices have made the situation worse. The same unpatched vulnerabilities used to perform 'instant' jailbreaks could also be exploited by malware writers.
Industry analysts agreed that the report highlights areas of real concern in the mobile market.
Forrester Research vice president and principal analyst Chenxi Wang told V3.co.uk that, while the projected figures might be ambitious, Boodaei's core points on the malware threat for Android and overall concerns of iOS security are valid.
"I think 2012 is a pretty aggressive projection, simply because I don't think mobile banking will catch up with PC-based banking by that time," Wang said.
Canalys vice president and principal analyst Chris Jones noted that the growth of Android will also make the platform a popular target for malware writers looking to spread infections.
"The smartphone market has and will continue to see tremendous growth," Jones told V3.co.uk.
"Malware in applications and security threats will indeed become more widespread, particularly in the most popular (Android) and most vulnerable/open (Android) smartphone platforms."
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