The amount of malware targeted at mobile devices rose by 155 per cent in the past year according to a new study by Juniper Networks.
Nearly two-thirds of mobile malware is so-called spyware, typically applications that have the ability to capture and transfer data such as GPS data or browser history.
The only other major category of mobile malware was SMS Trojans – these two accounted for more than 99 per cent of all mobile malware.
“The rapid growth in mobile malware combined with ongoing concerns about lost and stolen devices illustrate just how important of an issue mobile security is,” said Dan Hofman, chief mobile security evangelist at Juniper Networks.
Juniper's analysis also points to a large spike in malware targeted at the Android platform – a fact the firm puts down to Android's growing user base and a lack of controls in some app stores.
In 2010, just 0.5 per cent of the mobile malware samples Juniper detected were targeted at Android. In 2011, that had rocketed to 46.7 per cent.
But those figures need to be treated with a degree of caution, as Juniper does not measure malware targeted at Apple's iOS platform.
Juniper also said that malware was able to proliferate on smartphones because few users had installed anti-virus tools.
"It is vital that consumers and businesses take the necessary security precautions when using mobile devices,” said Sanjay Beri, general manager at Juniper's Junos Pulse unit.
“Securing mobile devices requires a combination of safeguarding connections from interception, securing data in transit from prying eyes or theft, protecting against fast-propagating malware, possessing the tools to manage devices and apps, and securing the data, usernames and passwords on them in the event that they are lost or stolen.”
Android threats are increasing all the time as the platform grows in popularity, with security researchers last week discovering a server located in Germany hosting more than 1,300 websites dedicated to distributing mobile malware particularly aimed at Google's operating system.
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Malware has been in circulation for more than a year