Announcement of 10. June 2020

G DATA Mobile Malware Report 2019: New high for malicious Android apps

Cyber Defense company counted more than 4.18 million malicious Android apps in 2019

New negative record value for Android malware: The experts at G DATA CyberDefense counted more than 4.18 million malicious apps in 2019, with an average of around 11,500 new Android malicious apps appearing every day. The focus is on adware, in order to access personal data and resell it.

Alexander Burris

Malware attacks on Android devices are currently still primarily aimed at private individuals and less at companies. Although manufacturers of mobile devices are paying much more attention to the topic of security, the number of malicious apps is increasing. Adware is particularly common on smartphones and tablets. Another worrying trend is the use of stalkerware to track people digitally.

Alexander Burris

Lead Mobile Researcher at G DATA CyberDefense

Adware - annoying advertising through the back door

Adware is currently experiencing a true renaissance: it is increasingly used on mobile devices in particular. Even though it does less damage than ransomware at first glance, adware should not be underestimated. Because these malicious apps also collect personal data such as locations or read the browser history. Data with which malware authors earn money.

The sharp increase is also due to the fact that developers are making technical improvements to their adware. For example, they circumvent antivirus programs or operating system restrictions. Another reason is that, unlike malicious malware such as ransomware, there is no need for complex techniques to develop appropriate adware apps. The effort is minimal, the return is maximum.

As a rule, these advertising scoops reach the system involuntarily via a downloaded app and constantly display unwanted advertising. Especially free apps always contain adware - as an alternative source of income. "We are increasingly seeing adware distribution via third-party app stores," says Alexander Burris. "We therefore recommend that apps be installed exclusively via Google Play."

Stalkerware - The enemy on my smartphone

G DATA has been a member of the "Coalition against Stalkerware" since autumn 2019. The Coalition was conceived as a non-commercial initiative to bring together interest groups from non-profit organisations, industry and other areas such as law enforcement under one roof. This is because the problem of stalker merchandise has been growing for years. Stalkerware is spy software that is also used by private individuals to spy on victims and track them at every turn. By installing these apps, perpetrators gain access to news, photos, social media apps, geolocation, audio or camera recordings of their victims - sometimes even in real time. The apps run hidden in the background without the knowledge or consent of a victim.

"The installation of stalkerware on a partner's mobile phone violates the basic human rights of the victims. We are determined to combat this threat and protect the victims, mostly women, from abusive behavior," says Alexander Burris. "As a cyber-defense company, we see it as our duty to take decisive action against the surveillance tools and automatically warn users of invisible spies".


Announcement of 10. June 2020