According to a report from F-Secure, malware targeting the Symbian mobile OS may die off completely this year. In their Mobile Threat Report for Q4 2012, F-Secure said there was an abrupt drop in malware targeting the handset platform, and they expect that decline to continue.
According to the numbers, Symbian malware accounted for only 4% of all the mobile threats in Q4 2012, down from 26% in the previous three quarters. Worldwide, Symbian malware fell to 19%, a ten point drop from the figures in 2011.
In 2012 , there were 301 new malware families and variants were detected targeting mobile platforms. Android malware topped the list, responsible for 79 percent of all threats, up from 66 percent in 2011. And yet, those numbers are reversed from 2010, when Symbian malware accounted for 62 percent of threats and Android just 11 percent.
“Malware in general has a parasitic relationship with its host,” says Sean Sullivan, Security Advisor at F-Secure Labs.
“As old Symbian handsets continue to be replaced by those with other operating systems, especially Android, Symbian malware dies off and will probably go extinct in 2013. May it rest in peace.”
Other items of note from the report include the fact that most of the Android-based threats in Q4 2012 generated profit via fraudulent SMS charges. 21 of the 96 Android malware families used SMS to generate steady revenue, by messaging premium rate services.
Trojans were popular in 2012 as well, 66% of the mobile malware infections were Trojan based in 2012 – a number that Sullivan says will drop due to Google’s release of Android 4.2 Jellybean. The extra security prompts in Android 4.2 should help detect Trojans, but this doesn’t mean greater security. As spying and monitoring tools gain traction, surveillance-related threats will account for a greater portion, he says.
F-Secure’s full report is available online.