Rise in mobile device software security threats identified

Out-Law News | 05 Sep 2014 | 3:14 pm | 1 min. read

Incidences of malicious software (malware) being identified on mobile devices rose 17% in the first half of this year, according to a new study.

A report by French communications giant Alcatel-Lucent estimated that approximately 15 million mobile devices worldwide could be infected with malware. The report said that the mobile malware is growing at a rate of nearly double that identified in 2013.

"With an overall infection rate 0.65%, we estimate that around 15 million mobile devices are infected worldwide at any time, since the ITU estimates that there are currently 2.3 billion smartphones," Alcatel-Lucent's Kindsight Security Labs' report (15-page / 564KB PDF) said. "Because Alcatel-Lucent sensors are not currently deployed in areas where infection rates are known to be higher than average, such as China and Russia, our global estimate is probably on the conservative side."

Alcatel-Lucent said that mobile spyware is one type of malware that is "definitely on the increase". The spyware enables hackers to "track the phone’s location, monitor ingoing and outgoing calls and text messages, monitor e-mail and track the victims’ web browsing", it said.

The company warned that businesses with devices containing malware risk the theft of confidential information, including financial information and personal data.

"The best defence against infection is network-based malware detection,” Kevin McNamee, security architect and director of Alcatel-Lucent’s Kindsight Security Labs, said. “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.”