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There Is ‘No Mobile Malware Crisis’

Mobile threat a concern, but still not much of one, F-Secure research shows

On by Thomas Brewster 1

Despite claims from various security companies the mobile malware situation is getting out of hand, Finnish firm F-Secure has said there is “no crisis”.

During a preview of its Threat Report, released publicly tomorrow, the company showed modest figures for mobile malware, with a total of just 149 families recorded in the first quarter of 2013. Other companies look at the number of variants of those families, hence why they show far greater rises in mobile malware overall.

Whilst that was a 50 percent rise on the fourth quarter of 2012, it is still infinitesimal when compared to the number of Windows malware families in existence, the firm noted.

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“The business of mobile malware is growing but not exponentially like on the Windows [PC] side,” said Sean Sullivan, security adviser at F-Secure.

Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at F-Secure, said the mobile and security industries deserved a “pat on the back” for averting a mobile threat crisis.

Android remains the number one concern, with 136 of the 149 strains aimed at the Google operating system. The rest went after Symbian, but none threatened iOS, BlackBerry or Windows Mobile.

As for protecting mobile devices, the F-Secure team told TechWeekEurope anti-virus on its own would not be enough and that AV had no place on an iPhone. Apple doesn’t allow AV players to install their software on iOS devices.

But threats such as phishing “work great on mobile”, Hypponen told TechWeek, meaning users should seek to get full mobile security, which includes AV, but also anti-theft technologies and protection against malicious spam.

Certain pieces of mobile malware have caused genuine cause for concern too. Perkele – malware targeting Android, BlackBerry and Symbian, which was on sale for as much as $15,000 earlier this year – showed serious criminals on dark web forums were keen to exploit the smartphone boom.

Last month, the massively prevalent Cutwail botnet was used to send out spam containing malicious links pointing users towards Android malware. This would again hint at serious criminal interest in targeting mobile platforms.

It just seems not many are excited enough about the exploit potential of Androids, iPhones and others to focus on breaking into them.

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Thomas Brewster

Author: Thomas Brewster

Security Correspondent, TechWeekEurope
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One reply to There Is ‘No Mobile Malware Crisis’

  • On May 15, 2013 at 3:50 am by Jeffrey Minshon

    I believe it. Malware may be more common and easily detected, but infections are decreasing and growing less serious. Google is helping that a lot (it’s finally taking malware seriously I guess) and so are the top ad networks, especially those that focus mostly on Android. Look at Airpush, for example, the #2 ad network for Android. They were smart enough to get ahead of this problem late in 2012 when they partnered with Appthority to basically wipe the Airpush network clean of malware. Believe me, that extra layer of scanning keeps the risk of malware infection very low, especially since apps and ads continue to be the biggest conduits for malware to hit our phones.

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