RiskIQ recently announced that the number of malicious apps on the Google Play store grew by 388 percent from 2011 to 2013 -- 12.7 percent of the apps on Google Play in 2013 were malicious, up from just 2.7 percent in 2011 (h/t Computerworld).

Still, the company found that the number of malicious apps removed annually by Google has dropped from 60 percent in 2011 to just 23 percent in 2013.

Among app categories, apps designed for personalizing Android phones were most likely to be malicious.

RiskIQ counted apps as malicious if they contained spyware and Trojans that did any of the following:

  • Collected and sent GPS coordinates, contact lists, e-mail addresses, etc., to third parties
  • Sent SMS messages to premium rate numbers
  • Subscribed infected phones to premium services
  • Recorded phone conversations and sent them to attackers
  • Took control of infected phones
  • Downloaded other malware onto infected phones

"The explosive growth of mobile apps has attracted a criminal element looking for new ways to distribute malware that can be used to commit fraud, identity theft and steal confidential data," RiskIQ CEO Elias Manousos said in a statement. "Malicious apps are an effective way to infect users since they often exploit the trust victims have in well known brands and companies they do business with like banks, insurance companies, healthcare providers and merchants."

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