We’re rapidly shifting to an era where phones are supplanting computers as the most popular way to get to the web.
Along with this rise in mobile usage comes a spike in the number of hackers looking for new ways to exploit these consumers. And just like some companies have more market share than others in retail or energy or any other sector, some hackers are responsible for a disproportionate amount of the hacking.
The security firm Lookout Mobile said in a talk at DEF CON 21 this week that a whopping 30% of all mobile malware apps come from just a handful of Russian companies. The company was able to trace the origins of mobile malware apps, which particularly plague the Android marketplace, to just 10 organizations based in Russia.
TechWeekEurope reports that these organizations act as custom malware designers for affiliate marketers that then create the malware apps on spoofed pages for Google Play and wage massive campaigns on Twitter to get users to download bad apps.
The main attack of choice for these hackers is toll fraud, which Lookout Mobile spotlighted in its 2012 State of Mobile Security. It claimed that toll fraud represents roughly 91% of all mobile malware. Once an unwitting victim downloads the malicious app, a virus begins to regularly send premium SMS messages to the hackers account and blocks notification for the user. Once the text is approved by the virus, the victim is directly billed on his phone bill, and then the process is repeated.
Russia has always been a popular den for hackers, and Akamai’s State of the Internet Q1 2013 report said that Russian servers accounted for 2.4% of all online malware traffic. But Lookout’s report indicates that the hackers are focused on capitalizing on mobile malware, and riding the wave of new smartphone users to bigger paychecks,
Lookout Security has declined to name any of the companies involved with malware, only giving their country of origin, saying: “We cannot comment on ongoing investigations with law enforcement. But we are very motivated to get them to stop.”