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The number of installation packages for modifications for mobile banking Trojans peaked at more than 61,000 – an all-time high – in the second quarter of 2018, researchers at Kaspersky Lab have reported.
These modifications are aimed at helping cyber attackers avoid detection by security systems and to expand their arsenal.
The second-quarter peak is more three times greater than the previous quarter and more than double the number of installations recorded in the first quarter of 2017.
Mobile banking Trojans are designed to steal money directly from mobile users’ bank accounts. This type of attack is attractive to cyber criminals looking for an easy profit, researchers said.
The malware is typically disguised as a legitimate banking app to lure people into installing it. Once the app is launched, the Trojan displays its own interface, which is designed to steal any credentials entered.
In the second quarter, the greatest contribution to the number of Trojans was made by the creators of Trojan Hqwar, with about half of the new modifications discovered relating to this malware, followed by Trojan Agent with about 5,000 packages.
The top three countries with the biggest share of people targeted by mobile banking malware as a proportion of all mobile malware were the US (0.79%), Russia (0.7%) and Poland (0.28%).
According to Kaspersky Lab researchers, the explosion in the number of banking Trojans could be part of a global trend for mobile malware growth, as the overall number of mobile malware installation packages also rose, by more than 421,000 compared with the previous quarter.
“There is a great cause for concern regarding mobile security, judging by our evaluation of the threat landscape in the second quarter of this year,” said David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab.
“Cyber criminals are constantly creating new modifications to their malicious software to make it more sophisticated and discreet – and thus harder for cyber security firms to detect.”
According to Emm, this is yet another wake-up call for the industry. “Consumers should be vigilant and extremely cautious, especially in the coming months, as the trend continues to grow,” he said.
Attempted infections by malware that aims to steal money via online access to bank accounts were registered on 215,762 user computers in the second quarter, up more than 5% on the previous quarter.
To reduce the risk of infection, Kaspersky Lab advises app users to:
- Install applications only from trusted sources, such as the official app stores.
- Check that permissions requested by the app correspond with the app’s task.
- Use a robust security system to protect you from malicious software and its actions.
- Avoid clicking on links in emails.
- Avoid rooting or jailbreaking devices to remove software restrictions.