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Nokia report shows surge in mobile device infections in 2016

Nokia has issued the Nokia Threat Intelligence Report – H1 2016, revealing a sharp rise in the occurrence of smartphone malware infections in the first half on the year. According to the report, smartphone infections nearly doubled between January and July compared to the latter half of 2015, with smartphones accounting for 78 per cent of all mobile network infections.

The malware infection rate hit an all-time high in April, with infections striking 1.06 per cent of all mobile devices tracked. In addition, devices based on the Android operating system were the most targeted mobile platform by far, representing 74 per cent of all mobile malware infections. The report also highlighted the emergence of new, more sophisticated malware that can be more difficult to detect and remove.

Data in the report was aggregated from deployments of the Nokia NetGuard Endpoint Security solution around the globe, covering more than 100 million devices, including mobile phones, laptops, notepads and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

The report’s key findings include:

  • 96 per cent surge in smartphone infections: The average smartphone infection rate increased 96 per cent in the first half of 2016, compared to the second half of 2015 (0.49 per cent compared to 0.25 per cent).
  • New all-time high: In April 2016, mobile infections hit an all-time high, with 1.06 per cent of devices injected by a range of malware, including ransomware, spyphone applications, SMS Trojans, personal information theft and aggressive adware.
  • One out of 120 smartphones infected: In April, one out of every 120 smartphones had some type of malware infection.
  • Android OS hit hardest: Android smartphones were the most targeted mobile platform, accounting for 74 per cent of all malware infections compared to Windows/PC systems (22 per cent), and other platforms, including iOS devices (4 per cent).
  • 75 per cent jump in malware samples: The number of infected Android apps in Nokia’s malware database soared 75 per cent, from 5.1 million in December 2015 to 8.9 million in July 2016.
  • Mobile game infections detected within hours: Downloaded mobile applications are a key channel for malware attacks. The Nokia Threat Intelligence Lab detected infected copies of an extremely popular mobile game within hours after they were posted on untrusted third-party download sites.
  • More sophisticated malware: Malware is becoming increasingly more sophisticated, as new variations attempt to root the phone in order to provide complete control and establish a permanent presence on the device.
  • Top three mobile threats: The top three mobile malware threats were Uapush.A, Kasandra.B and SMSTracker, together accounting for 47 per cent of all infections.
  • Fixed residential network infections rise: The overall monthly infection rate in residential fixed broadband networks reached an average of 12 per cent in the first half of 2016, compared to 11 per cent in late 2015, primarily due to an increase in moderate threat level adware. These infections are mostly due to malware on Windows PCs and laptops in the home, but also include infections on smartphones using home Wi-Fi.
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