Spyware Infects Phones, Adware Increases on Home PCs, Report Finds
Android malware has declined, but an increasing number of malicious apps are spyware. At the same time, adware increasingly affects home PCs.Security firms continue to warn smartphone users of the digital dangers of mobile malware, adware and spyware, but ironically, almost 80 percent of infected devices on mobile networks are tethered Windows laptops, not phones or tablets, network-security firm Alcatel-Lucent said on Sept. 16. The company's Motive Security Labs found that the proportion of mobile-network-connected devices showing signs of infection climbed slightly to 0.75 percent at the end of June. The fraction of those devices that were smartphones, however, declined in the first half of 2015 to 0.15 percent from about 0.30 percent in January, the report stated. Infected Windows computers, mostly laptops, are responsible for the increase, said Kevin McNamee, director of Motive Security Labs at Alcatel-Lucent. "Windows infections in the mobile network increased substantially," he said. "More people are using the mobile network as their preferred method of connecting to the Internet." The threat that malware poses to mobile devices has been increasingly subject to debate. Although some mobile-security providers point to double-digit infection rates among devices in some countries, such as India, China and Russia, the gated software ecosystems on smartphones and tablets has made infecting them more difficult. However, widespread vulnerabilities, such as the Stagefright flaw, could change the threat landscape for mobile users.
Currently, mobile users' biggest worry is not some criminal group in another country, but much closer to home: Spyware installed by a spouse or co-worker. Mobile spyware accounted for 10 of the top 25 most prevalent malicious programs and a third of infected mobile devices sending traffic to the Internet, according to Alcatel-Lucent's data.