Mobile malware infections continue to rise

Networks Asia staff
Networks Asia

Nokia’s latest Threat Intelligence Report indicates that there was a steady increase in mobile device infections throughout 2016.

Malware struck an estimated 1.35% of all mobile devices in October - the highest level seen since reporting started in 2012.

The overall infection rate meanwhile increased 63% sequentially in the second half of 2016.

Smartphones were the top malware targets by far, accounting for 85% of all mobile device infections in the second half of 2016. The report also revealed a surge of nearly 400% in smartphone malware attacks in 2016.

While Android-based smartphones and tablets continued to be the primary targets (81%), reflecting the prevalence of the operating system worldwide, iOS-based devices also suffered attacks in the second half of the year (4%), primarily by Spyphone surveillance software that tracks users' calls, text messages, social media applications, web searches, GPS locations and other activities.

The Threat Intelligence Report also exposed major vulnerabilities in the rapidly expanding universe of IoT devices, underscoring the need for the industry to re-evaluate its IoT deployment strategies to ensure these devices are securely configured, managed and monitored.

In late 2016, the Mirai botnet assembled an army of compromised IoT devices to launch three of the largest DDoS attacks in history, including an assault that took down many high-profile web services. These attacks underscored the urgent requirement for more robust security capabilities to protect IoT devices from future attacks and exploitation. 

”The security of IoT devices has become a major concern,” commented Kevin McNamee, head of the Nokia Threat Intelligence Lab. “The Mirai botnet attacks last year demonstrated how thousands of unsecured IoT devices could easily be hijacked to launch crippling DDoS attacks. As the number and types of IoT devices continue to proliferate, the risks will only increase."

The report also indicates that Windows/PC systems accounted for 15% of malware infections in the second half of 2016, down from 22% in the first half of the year.

The monthly infection rate in residential fixed broadband networks averaged 10.7% in the second half of 2016, down from 12% in the first half, and down from 11% in late 2015.

While moderate threat level adware activity decreased in the second half of 2016, high-level threats (e.g., bots, rootkits, keyloggers and banking Trojans) remained steady at approximately 6%.

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