A report by Alcatel-Lucent’s Kindsight Security Labs shows that mobile infections are growing at an alarming rate, with an increase of 17% in the first half of 2014 compared to a 20% increase for the whole of 2013.
The report, which states infection rate currently stands at 0.65%, estimates that some 15 million mobile devices worldwide are infected by malware, 60% of these being Android smartphones, infections on iPhone and BlackBerry devices make up less than 1%. The report says four out of 10 malware apps are spyphone apps and 40% of malware originates from Windows-based laptops connected to a phone. Malware apps can also pirate the amount of data minutes used, causing nasty surpirses to mobile phone customers.
Kevin McNamee, Security Architect and Director of Kindsight Security Labs said: “Android smartphones are the easiest malware target, but Windows laptops are still the favourite of hard core professional cybercriminals. The quality and sophistication of most Android malware is still behind the more mature Windows PC varieties. Android malware makes no serious effort to conceal itself and relies on unsuspecting people to install and infected app.”
Infections in fixed residential networks are also on the rise jumping from 9% in December to 18% at the end of June. According to the report, this is largely attributable to moderate threat level adware infections, which have risen from 5% in Q4 2013 to 13% in Q2 2014. 7% of broadband customers are encountering more severe threats such as bots, root-kits and banking Trojans, up from 5% in Q4 2013.
What makes it so easy for malware developers to spread infection especially in Android devices is the fact that there is no control of the digital certificates used to sign Android apps, which are usually self-signed and can’t be traced to the developer.
McNamee encourages people to be more vigilant and install malware detection software on all devices. “People frequently don’t take appropriate security precautions for their devices, and even when they do a malicious app can easily evade detection by device-based anti-virus. Network based anti-virus embedded on an operator’s network cannot be disabled by cybercriminals, is always on and up to date.”
Although threats are on the rise, it seems a lot of the ones targeted at smartphones are not very sophisticated and with a little bit of attention can mostly be fended off. Large majority of the residential infections mainly cause frustration with unwanted ads or device underperformance. But cyber security should still always be taken with due seriousness and hackers are constantly upping their game to come up with better ways to get to our personal information.
Will regulators ever be able to catch up with the rate of change in the telco/tech industry?
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