Nokia: New record high in mobile device malware infections

Nokia: New record high in mobile device malware infections [Image: xijian via iStock]

Nokia has released a report that details a new record high in mobile device malware infections, a sharp increase in compromised smartphones and significant Internet of Things (IoT) device security vulnerabilities.

In its latest Threat Intelligence Report, issued twice a year, Nokia revealed what it called “a steady increase” in mobile device infections throughout 2016. The company said that malware had affected 1.35 per cent of all mobile devices in October, which was the highest level seen since reporting started in 2012.

The report also revealed a surge of nearly 400 per cent in smartphone malware attacks last year. Smartphones were the most-targeted devices in the second half of the year, Nokia said, comprising 85 per cent of all mobile device infections.

Android smartphones and tablets continued to be the primary targets, making up 81 per cent of those attacked, which Nokia said reflected the prevalence of the operating system worldwide. However, Apple’s iOS-based devices also suffered attacks in the second half of the year, primarily by Spyphone surveillance software, which tracks users' calls, text messages, social media applications, web searches and locations.

The report also exposed significant vulnerabilities in the rapidly expanding universe of IoT devices. Nokia said this highlights the need for the industry to re-evaluate its IoT deployment strategies in order to ensure these devices are securely configured, managed and monitored.

Kevin McNamee, head of the Nokia Threat Intelligence Lab, said: "The security of IoT devices has become a major concern. The Mirai botnet attacks last year demonstrated how thousands of unsecured IoT devices could easily be hijacked to launch crippling DDoS attacks. As the number and types of IoT devices continue to proliferate, the risks will only increase."

The report also revealed that Windows/PC systems saw a drop in malware infections, accounting for 15 per cent in the second half of 2016, which was down from 22 per cent in the first half of the year.