Network security firm Palo Alto Networks announced new capabilities in its WildFire malware analysis sandbox, saying that the technology can now analyze Android applications in the APK file format to detect threats embedded within Android applications.
Introduced in November 2011, WildFire helps combat modern malware, which is often highly targeted, unknown, and evasive. WildFire’s sandbox helps identify unknown malicious files by executing them in a virtual cloud-based environment, in an attempt to identify malicious behavior, even if the files have never been seen before or identified as malicious elsewhere.
The company said that its WildFire technology now searches major Android marketplaces for new applications to analyze and generates a signature for apps determined to be malicious that can be downloaded by Palo Alto Networks customers to protect their networks from these mobile threats.
Unlike most security solutions that focus on the endpoint, Palo Alto Networks WildFire captures malware in the network and in the wild, and actively analyzes it in a virtualized Android environment to proactively protect networks against new APK-based malware, the company explained.
According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, Android maintained its leadership position in Q2 2013 with a 79.3% market share based on 187.4 million units shipped.
With such a high market share, Android’s popularity makes it an increasingly attractive target for cyber criminals.
According to ESET research, from 2011 to 2012, Android malware grew by a factor of 17. According to a report from Trend Micro released last week, the number of malicious and high-risk Android apps jumped by more than 40 percent during the past few months. The number of risky apps hit 718,000 at the end of the second quarter compared to 509,000 in the first quarter, Trend Micro said.
Palo Alto Networks said that it currently has coverage for more than 300,000 pieces of Android malware.
According to Wade Williamson, a SecurityWeek columnist and Senior Security Analyst at Palo Alto Networks, while threats targeting mobile devices are still relatively rare compared to what we see in terms of malware targeting PCs, security teams need to prepare for these emerging threats.
“As security professionals, it’s our job to see around the corner whenever possible,” Williamson noted in a recent SecurityWeek column. “While the sky is not falling, if controlling mobile malware isn’t on your radar, it definitely should be.”