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Mobile malware is becoming profitable

September 12, 2012 at 7:24 am

It has been just over 10 years since the first smartphone was released, and technology continues to advance at breakneck speeds. With current smartphones’ ability to browse the internet, triangulate your position via GPS to mere meters, as well as perform a host of other functions, it was only a matter of time before malware developers jumped on the bandwagon as well.

Mobile malware – the next cash cow

Everyone has heard of someone being charged exorbant rates for text messages. This is called “Premium Text Billing” or “Toll Fraud”, and has become the most prevalent type of mobile malware within the past year.

Just one family of Toll Fraud malware, FakeInst, is estimated to have successfully stolen millions of dollars from people in Russia, the Middle East, and Europe.

Privacy among Mobile users is a growing concern

Mobile privacy concerns continue to climb as a result of aggressive advertising techniques, including pushing out-of-app ads and accessing personal info without the user consent. It is estimated the although 5% of applications utilize these aggressive advertising techniques, the apps that are known to contain these techniques have already been downloaded over 80 million times.

Geography and Human Behavior linked to malware risk

Not only does geographic location play a big role in Toll Fraud, but also Human Behavior. As it turns out, people in Russia, Ukriane and China have a significantly higher likelihood of encountering malware than anywhere else. Application downloading seems to also be another very important factor. The more likely the user is to download an app from an untrusted source, the higher the likelihood that their mobile device will become compromised.

The act of visiting unsafe links from mobile devices is one of the most common ways to get infected. Web based threats such as phishing are able to target PC and Mobile based users equally, making it extremely easy to replicate the threat on a different platform. It was also found that 4 out of 10 users have clicked on a unsafe link within the past year.


With mobile devices quickly becoming the main communication medium for many people, the percentage of malware specifically designed for those devices will continue to climb. It is paramount that users adhere to guidelines regarding safe downloading and browsing (such as that of computers). By putting these guidelines into practice, only then will the end user be able to adequately prevent malware from compromising their mobile device.

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