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Mobile malware infections may be overhyped

Chris Player | April 24, 2015
Mobile users in the US are 1.3 times more likely to be struck by lightning than malware, new research has found.

Mobile users in the US are 1.3 times more likely to be struck by lightning than malware, new research has found.

Atlanta-based security firm, Damballa, has released data at the RSA conference in San Francisco that suggests the problem of mobile malware has been overemphasised.

The firm presented its findings at the conference based on this big data set, the research team set out to determine actual malware infection rates.

As part of the study, it excluded malware samples found or vulnerabilities and theoretical attacks.

Damballa senior scientific researcher, Charles Lever, presented the firm's findings and sought to highlight the actual risks to devices, the number of devices seen communicating with known bad domains, and the comparison to historical rates.

"iOS developers must submit an application for approval before their app is available on iTunes. Google has developed "Bouncer", a system that scans submitted apps for evidence of malware."

"So for a majority of the population, by simply staying within the authorized app stores for their respective devices, they will drastically reduce the risk of being infected with mobile malware."

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The firm conducted a previous study in 2012 with the same objective. At the time, Damballa monitored about 33 per cent of US mobile data traffic.

The same study was repeated in Q4 2014. Damballa now monitors about 49 per cent of US Mobile Data Traffic

According to the 2014 study, 9688 out of a total of 151 million mobile devices contacted mobile blacklist domains amounting to 0.0064 per cent.

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Lever said mobile operators and platforms have invested significant resources in preventing malicious applications from being installed, especially in North America.

Damballa chief technical officer, Brian Foster, said it would be naïeve to think there is no risk in mobile, but the true extent of mobile infections is still not widely understood.

"By understanding these risks, organizations will be better able to apply network-based countermeasures to help detect and protect themselves going forward."


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