Android malware with the ability to steal users’ money is the most common type of malware in the UK, Europe and North America, while aggressive adware is more common in Asia, according to research by security company Bitdefender.

In the vendor’s latest report, findings suggest nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of all the Android apps carrying malware that could charge users without their knowledge emanated in five countries. The US led the way with 16 percent, followed by France and Romania on 15 percent, the UK (10 percent) and Germany (9 percent).

These types of apps trick users into sending SMS messages to premium-rate numbers or paying for free apps. They accounted for 67 percent of all reported global malware in the second half of 2012.

In contrast, Asia was found to be the region most affected by aggressive adware, with 50 percent of the global total. More than half of the aggressive adware (53 percent) found in Asia was reported in India.

Adware is not considered malware but can harm the user experience due to interruptions from ads and links to websites.

“During 2013 we expect to see a rampant increase of malware, directly proportional with the number of users that acquire Android devices,” said Bitdefender chief security strategist Catalin Cosoi.

The study is based on Android devices equipped with the Bitdefender mobile security platform and was conducted from 1 January to 1 December 2012.