01 Oct Mobile Malware: Small Numbers, but Growing
The warning was dire: A small security company revealed a flaw in millions of smartphones that could allow dangerous software to masquerade as a legitimate app and seize control of a phone.
The threat was a big conversation topic at this year’s Black Hat security conference. But after that, we didn’t hear much more about it.
Perhaps that should not be surprising. For some time, computer security companies have been on the lookout for apps meant to do harm to smartphones. But for all the concern, so-called mobile malware has not had much of an impact on regular people.
A recent report by the security company McAfee said that there was a 197 percent increase in mobile malware from 2012 to 2013.
The actual number of phones hit by mobile malware, however, is tiny. McAfee said one of the largest mobile infections it was tracking recently — a kind of malware that can lock your phone and all the data on it and hold it for ransom — had infected 20,000 to 40,000 mobile users in the United States.
By comparison, the recent hack of Home Depot’s computer network affected 56 million cardholders.
So is mobile malware a threat? Sure. But your threat level depends on who you are. For example, it was reported this week that the Chinese government could be using mobile malware to plant malicious apps on the phones of protesters in Hong Kong.