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Marble Labs Finds US App Publishers As Biggest Source Of Malicious Content In Mobile Threat Report

February 5, 2015 - Written By Justin Diaz

When it comes to mobile security, sometimes we feel that it can’t be talked about enough. Specifically this time around we’re talking about malicious app content, and where people are the most at risk when it comes to downloading, and installing risky apps that could be opening up your device to a world of malicious activity. In the latest mobile threat report from Marble Labs, they found that surprisingly US publishers seem to be the biggest source of malicious apps and risky content that could be a threat to your mobile security and personal data. Marble Labs analysis of more than one million apps on Android and iOS in North America revealed that more than 40% of malicious apps people installed were from publishers based out of the U.S. contrary to people’s beliefs that most of this type of content comes from app developers in China or Russia, although those sources Marble Labs says, are still generating a great number of malicious apps.

Marble Labs also breaks down a list of specific traits to look out for with potentially risky applications with malicious intent, including things like sending private data without the user’s knowledge, installing apps to display unwanted ads, sending premium SMS messages to defraud customers, and of course things like attempting to gain root access to devices and attempting to find exploits for gathering personal user data. Although malicious app content does exist, these findings don’t necessarily mean that malicious apps are running rampant on Android devices across the nation, however it isn’t a bad idea to use common sense and stick to downloading only apps that you trust from the designated Google Play Store to lower your chances, and further it’s not a bad idea to have an antivirus app installed.

While the US was found to be the largest source of high-risk, malicious apps, it should be noted that Marble Labs found this to be the case when referring to apps that come from legitimate app stores like Google Play which target non-rooted Android devices. They state that this isn’t the case when dealing with apps that target rooted devices, which according to Marble Labs do tend to come from outside the U.S. As stated above, the U.S. makes up over 40%(42% to be exact) of high-risk, malicious apps from legitimate sources which target non-rooted or jailbroken Android and iOS devices. Next on the list, Marble Labs found China to be the second largest publisher of these types of apps with 18%, followed by India, Korea, and Taiwan at about 4.5%. In addition to analyzing which country is the biggest source of malicious apps targeting non-rooted users, Marble labs also analyzed which are the top 10 countries that have published more than 100 high-risk, malicious apps and displayed it in a pie chart showing the country of origin. The chart also shows more than just the top 10 countries. Interestingly enough, Marble Labs also found that when downloading apps originating from certain countries, even though China is second to the U.S. when it comes to the percentage of applications that are high-risk targeting non-rooted users, there is a higher likelihood that an app downloaded from a Chinese publisher is high-risk(as shown in the second chart below)having a likelihood of about 8.8%, where the U.S. falls all the way to the bottom having a likelihood of 1.1%. The takeaway from this should be that as mobile users, we need to pay closer attention to what we’re downloading and take better care of our personal data, whether that means using an antivirus app to scan for malicious apps, or simply downloading only apps you know to be trusted, which can be hard to do sometimes. You can find the full report of Marble Labs analysis in the source below.