Despite the best efforts of Google and others, Nokia’s recently released malware report looks to confirm that malware and other security concerns have hit an all-time high for Android and the Internet of Things (IoT). The ‘Threat Intelligence Report’ released bi-annually, looks for trends in infections for both fixed and mobile network connections. To do that, it analyzes data and statistics about infections and vulnerabilities. The report for the second half of 2016 was released on March 27 and contains several key points worth noting. First, 2016 saw a steady increase in malware infection rates and smartphones took the brunt of it with a staggering 400-percent increase in 2016. Smartphones also made up the vast majority of infections with 85-percent of infections occurring on the handsets.
Unfortunately, Android smartphones and tablets are the most targeted, according to the report. Which makes sense since, in the world of security, the OS with the higher market holdings holds the highest potential for a return on efforts for a malicious entity. The reported increase was also accompanied by a decrease in infections across Windows PCs, which is likely indicative of the switch in trends from PC computing to mobile computing as mobile devices continue to catch up in terms of usability. It should be noted that some of the data analyzed in the report came from one highly-controversial software type that allows users’ calls, texts, and other information to be tracked by another user. That is still a significant sign of vulnerability since such software can be used in a way that most would deem malicious, but that kind of mobile spyware also has a history of being used by parents to track the activity of their children. It is not clear from the report just how much of the 400-percent malware increase comes down to that type of software.
However, Nokia’s report also points out that it isn’t just mobile devices under threat from increased attacks. According to Kevin McNamee, the current head of the Nokia Threat Intelligence Lab, “The security of IoT devices has become a major concern.” McNamee cites the report’s finding that there have been an increasing number of attacks on IoT platforms using DDoS attacks, which cripple those devices’ ability to interact with an IoT network. McNamee goes on to claim that Nokia’s network-based security can help mitigate such attacks by “enabling service providers to take corrective actions,” but it’s worth mentioning that there is no such thing as a totally secure network-connected device. Although, anti-malware software for Android can also help offset a substantial amount of the risk for smartphones.