Mobile malware infections continue to rise, Android and Windows PC the worst offenders

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17 February 2015

6 million mobile devices were hit by mobile malware in 2014 as mobile infections continued to accelerate, according to a new report from Motive Security Labs.

Motive, an offshoot of French telecommunications provider Alcatel Lucent, has predicted a variety of happenings in 2015, warning that botnets will move to mobile and the cloud, attacks on the cloud will increase, and the Internet of Things will get hit.

Even though 16 million seems like a huge number, it only represents 0.68% of mobile devices worldwide – yet it also represents a 25% spike year on year. Motive also errs on the side of caution with the figure, as in places such as China and Russia their sensors do not have complete coverage of mobile device usage.

Android and Windows/PC devices make up the vast majority of the registered infections, with iPhone, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile registering less than 1% of hits.

The security lab is keen to point out how many Windows PCs made the list of infected mobile devices – indeed, for the majority of 2013 it registered more hits than Android smartphones. As the report notes, given cybercriminals are still so heavily invested in the Windows malware ecosystem, any Windows device or PC which is connected to the mobile network via dongles, Wi-Fi, or tethered through smartphones, become a target. “As the mobile network becomes the access network of choice for many Windows PCs, the malware moves with them,” the report notes.

Less surprising, however, is the prevalence of Android in this list, with Droid phones and tablets responsible for approximately 50% of the malware infections observed. Motive notes this is for two primary reasons; Android apps can be downloaded from third party sources, and there is no control of digital certificates used to sign Android apps.

The top Android malware detected in the second half of 2014 was Android.Adware.Uapush.A, a moderate threat which represented 45% of hits. NotCompatible, a malware this publication examined in November, is seen by Motive as a high threat and was present in 1.65% of instances. Its use and activity was declining throughout 2014, and is primarily a threat in Central Europe.

For 2015, Motive predicts that cybercrime “is going to move into the cloud in a big way.” The firm cites the Christmas attacks on Xbox and PlayStation services and a major DDoS attack against Rackspace as evidence of this growing threat. Similarly, Motive predicts attacks against objects like Internet-connected video surveillance equipment, alarm systems, smart meters and automobiles in the coming year. A plethora of connected devices via the Internet of Things means more attack opportunities.

You can take a look at the full report here. Do growing malware threats worry you for 2015?

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