Skip to main content

Check your phone: Nations with the most mobile malware

By Ramy Inocencio, for CNN
April 19, 2013 -- Updated 1053 GMT (1853 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Security threats by malicious software targeting mobile devices on rise, says NQ Mobile
  • Nearly 95% of all global malware targets phones operating on Android OS
  • Almost 33 million Android devices were targeted by malware in 2012
  • Mobile devices in developing countries often targeted for personal data mining

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Security threats from mobile malware are on the rise and nearly 95% of targets operate on the Android operating system, according to a new report from NQ Mobile.

The mobile security firm, with headquarters in both the U.S. and China, estimates that nearly 33 million Android devices were targeted by malware in 2012 -- a jump of more than 200% from the year prior.

"Android is one of the most powerful operating systems in the world. It allows developers to develop some of the most innovative applications out there," said Omar Khan, Co-CEO of NQ Mobile, to CNN's Nina dos Santos. "But because it's so open it also gives the opportunity for bad actors in the system to take advantage of that openness to develop malicious applications as well."

According to the NQ report, one type of malware is delivered through app repackaging in which a user downloads a mobile application that looks legitimate but is actually a harmful program.

Malicious phone apps on the rise
An app for ... hijacking a plane?
Samsung unveils Galaxy S4 smartphone

Malware can also be downloaded through fake websites when a user clicks on a URL that appears authentic but is not.

Mobile users can also be duped through so-called "smishing" -- a combination of the words SMS and phishing -- where a user receives a text message asking for personal information like a credit card number, e-mail address or social security number.

And while personal information is one casualty from malicious software, personal harm could occur with new programs being developed. Earlier this month, a German hacker -- and licensed commercial pilot -- raised eyebrows with claims he developed an app that could remotely hijack an airplane using an Android phone.

With the increase in mobile malware, consumers need to be smarter in how they protect themselves and where they click.

Nearly 25% of malware on mobile devices comes from pornography websites, according to a recent study from Blue Coat, a Web security and optimization company.

Also, more than three of every 10 smartphone users have no password on their device according to a global survey by Web security firm McAfee. NQ's Khan puts the number even higher -- at one out of every two.

"The simplest thing we can do is put passwords on our phones. Installing security and encryption solutions (are another) way to do it. Also educating our consumers and our enterprise users not to connect and leave open wi-fi connections or Bluetooth connections -- only to connect to trusted sources. A lot of times we'll connect to anything."

The NQ report also revealed that China, India and Russia were the top three countries with infected mobile devices.

"In the emerging markets it's our only lifeline to the internet so hackers are finding that information more and more valuable which is why they're going after these devices," said Khan.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 24, 2014 -- Updated 1414 GMT (2214 HKT)
Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea -- the three countries facing the biggest health crisis -- are also facing huge bills to try and contain the virus.
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 1316 GMT (2116 HKT)
Twitter has lost its position in the top 20 coolest brands for the first time in three years.
September 25, 2014 -- Updated 1554 GMT (2354 HKT)
As the crisis in Iraq escalates, CNN looks at how Iraq could crack down on ISIS' oil riches under the guidance of its new oil minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0842 GMT (1642 HKT)
Recep Tayyip Erdogan is Turkey's new president . So can he revitalize its economic fortunes?
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1724 GMT (0124 HKT)
Experts share their tips on cities they see as emerging financial hubs...they're not where you think.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1340 GMT (2140 HKT)
Growing numbers of us are willing to serve as bank, teacher or travel agent to people we have never met, and entrust them to serve us in turn.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
The European Union is stepping in to save its dairy from going sour.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 1236 GMT (2036 HKT)
Europe's deteriorating relationship with Russia has hit the region's growth, even before new food sanctions begin to bite.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1634 GMT (0034 HKT)
With cyberattacks on the rise and here to stay, it's a modern-day challenge for people and businesses to get smarter about preventing them.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1324 GMT (2124 HKT)
Airstrikes, rebels seizing control of oil fields, plus a severe refugee crisis are a recipe for market panic. So why are Iraq oil prices stable?
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1124 GMT (1924 HKT)
Peer-to-peer finance lets businesses bypass bank loans. Creative companies with quirky ideas find new lending models advantageous.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 1524 GMT (2324 HKT)
Evidence points to pro-Russian separatists as perpetrators of the attack and Vladimir Putin is facing questions, David Clark writes.
September 3, 2014 -- Updated 0952 GMT (1752 HKT)
CNN's Jim Boulden looks on the future of online shopping.
August 5, 2014 -- Updated 1440 GMT (2240 HKT)
The biggest Ebola outbreak in history is taking its toll in Western Africa, hitting some of West Africa's most vulnerable economies.
ADVERTISEMENT