Study shows why we should fear mobile malware

Mobile Malware Study

Mobile malware has gone from an afterthought to a serious issue for smartphone and tablet users seemingly overnight. More savvy consumers have known about the threats presented by mobile malware for quite some time, but even they don’t always protect themselves against various threats. Malware targeting smartphones and tablets is getting more sophisticated, as we saw recently when a researcher created screenlogging software capable of tracking your touchscreen swipes in order to steal PIN numbers, user names, passwords, credit card numbers and anything else you might type into your phone. Now, a new study shows us why smartphone and tablet users need to start taking mobile malware more seriously.

Kindsight Security Labs, a division of Alcatel-Lucent, on Wednesday released the results of a new study that found more than 11.6 million mobile devices are infected by mobile malware at any given time. The figure is the result of data collected and analyzed during the fourth quarter last year, and the firm determined that mobile infections increased 20% globally in 2013.

According to Alcatel-Lucent, Android devices that downloaded malicious software from the Google Play store made up about 60% of all mobile infections, while roughly 40% of infected mobile devices were Android phones that received malicious code while tethered to a Windows laptop. BlackBerry phones and iPhones combined to represent less than 1% of all infected devices.

Another recent study from Cisco also found that Android device account for 99% of mobile malware infections.

“Criminals traditionally go after low hanging fruit,” Kindsight Security Labs director Kevin McNamee said. “Not only is Android the largest smartphone market, unlike iPhone and Blackberry, it allows apps to be loaded from third party sites. This provides cybercriminals with an un-policed mechanism to distribute their malware which can easily evade detection by device-based anti-virus. Thus, in 2013 we saw an increased trend towards operators offering network based anti-virus security to subscribers as a service.”

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