China leads world in Android infections

27 May 2011

Your App Factoid of the week: 2.53 million Android smartphone users were infected with mobile viruses in Q1 this year, the majority of them in China.

That’s according to NetQin Mobile, a Beijing-based SaaS provider offering mobile security solutions.

China accounted for 64% of infected Android phones worldwide in Q1, says a new NetQin study released this week. The second biggest market for Android viruses – the US – comprised less than 8% of the total. (India, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia also made the top ten list of countries in the study, though each took up between 2% and 3% of the total.)

NetQin said China dominated the results in part due to lack of awareness of mobile security issues, but also because of the easy availability of "white box" phones that aren’t tied to a cellco:

"White box" phones often run outdated versions of mobile software and are not provided with security support from legal carriers. The lack of mobile security awareness further adds fuel to the flames, as users often ignore protective measures when engaged in mobile activities, such as using mobile payment channels, web browsing or clicking on URLs from unknown sources, thus allowing more mobile viruses and malware to intrude their mobile devices.

Almost half of infected phones were running Froyo (Android OS V2.2), with another 34% running Eclair (Android OS V2.1). Malicious fee deduction and privacy theft comprised the bulk of the threats reported (45% and 30%, respectively).

Interestingly, NetQin also says that the main source of attacks was Android Market, which accounted for nearly 60% of threats.

Naturally, NetQin’s answer is to all this is cloud computing (did we mention they’re in the SaaS business?), so you can take that with as many grains of salt as you like.

On the other hand, the cloud will certainly have a role to play in mobile security, at least for enterprises nervous about employee smartphones accessing the corporate LAN, or operators hoping to offer hosted mobile security services like remote back-up, locking, tracking and wiping.

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