Smartphone malware at an all-time high

Posted by Mike Luttrell

PC and Mac users are more educated than ever about viruses and phishing attacks, so what's a hacker to do? Turn his attention to smartphones, of course.

There's been a 33% increase in smartphone malware over last year, meaning it is a bigger epidemic than ever, and it's only continuing to expand.

This comes as cyber criminals focus on easier targets. Many users are completely unaware that their phones pose as much of a security risk as their computers.

"With the increasing pervasiveness of Smartphone devices, 2010 has undoubtedly been the year that fraudsters have truly turned their attention to mobile platforms. The vast majority of consumers are acutely aware of the threats that PC-based viruses, spam messages and phishing emails pose, but many are still unaware of the risks associated with their mobile devices," summarized Adaptive Mobile COO Gareth Maclachlan in response to the new figures.

The biggest platform at risk are phone operating systems that run on Java, which are a bit less sophisticated than Android or the iPhone. The number of malware reports on these devices has shot up 45% over the last year.

Android has also become a target because of its open operating system, allowing any developer to put up any application it wants. There have been several high-profile accounts of malicious apps that can steal user data or even allow for remote execution of the phone.

Meanwhile, malware on Symbian, Nokia's operating system, actually fell 11%. This demonstrates that Nokia is becoming less and less relevant in the marketplace as hackers turn toward the operating systems with more lucrative victims.

It's a dangerous world out there, so the lesson here is to just be aware of what you download to your phone. Even though it is harder to crack than a PC, it's becoming more and more doable, and hackers are aware of this.