Despite constant reminders to the contrary, most mobile device users still have a difficult time accepting that their mobile phone is at risk for malware. Hopefully, the recent study from Alcatel-Lucent will shake users into the realization that mobile device security is important. The report compiled from their Motive Security Labs division, found that malware infections in mobile devices increased by 25 percent in 2014, compared to a 20 percent increase in 2013 and has resulted in roughly 16 million compromised devices.
The continued growth of malware on mobile devices is largely the fault of user ignorance. Many users believe that their cellphone is somehow more protected or less likely to be targeted than a laptop or desktop computer. In reality, the infection rate for Android devices has not only caught up with but tied Windows laptops for the most compromised consumer device. Comparatively, iPhones and Blackberry smartphones make up only 1% of infection rates, however, new vulnerabilities have emerged in the last year to show that they are not immune to malware threats.
Where mobile devices and more traditional PC’s differ is in the type of malware that is frequently present on the devices. PC malware often takes the form of disruptive or exploitative software that becomes apparent immediately. Ransomware, for example, locks you out of your computer and demands money to return control. Mobile malware generally is more secretive, preferring to lay low and gather information about a user for as long as possible. This allows the malware network to learn email addresses, passwords, phone numbers and potentially even credit card numbers or bank account information. What makes matter worse is that as much as 65% of cellphone service subscribers think it is the responsibility of the provider to secure their devices, instead of taking preventative measures themselves.
The growth of mobile malware has continued to increase and as people find new ways to use their cellphones for business and personal use, it is only likely to get worse. Users are urged to seek out measures to protect their mobile devices and above all, use caution when installing new software.
– Richard Keene
IT Computer Support of New York
Webmaster and Lead Designer