Mobile networks are increasingly becoming an express lane for malware, and Windows devices now represent 80 percent of the hardware that gets infected, recent research revealed.
As part of its regular series of Motive Security Lab reports, Alcatel-Lucent showed that gear running Microsoft’s mobile operating system (OS) accounted for the vast majority of malware spotted this past June. This puts Windows well ahead of Android as a mobile security risk: In fact, devices running the Google-created OS saw a drop in infections during the same period.
Computerworld explained why Microsoft, which has been struggling to gain market share for its Windows Phone and other mobile products, could wind up being a malware magnet. Though iOS and Android devices dominate the market, many people still use Windows-based PCs, connecting to mobile networks either via Wi-Fi or by tethering to cellular equipment or using a dongle. In that sense, Microsoft’s platform still represents one of the biggest targets for cybercriminal activity.
Redmond Magazine pointed out that even if Google helped clamp down against infections on Android devices via its Verified Apps initiative, it’s not necessarily any safer than Windows. In fact, the Alcatel-Lucent report showed there were twice as many Android malware samples in the first half of this year than in 2014. Plus, Microsoft’s recently released Windows 10 includes an array of security features that may help shift the tide of device infections as more people upgrade their laptops and PCs.
In general, mobile networks are becoming far more likely to carry malware than fixed networks, ComputerWeekly noted, with infection rates for the latter dropping in the second quarter of this year. The Alcatel-Lucent report also indicated an increase in spyware that cybercriminals use to monitor smartphone activity, including online transactions and an owner’s location. Of the 25 top infections tracked in the study, this form of malicious code accounted for 10 of the entries.
Adware was another worrying trend cited by the researchers, SecurityWatch reported, with Windows-based BetterSurf offered as an example of how attackers can inject phishing schemes and other threats into everyday computing experiences. The bottom line is, whether you’re using Windows, Android or anything else, mobile malware may never be far away.
Writer & Editor
Shane Schick is a contributor for SecurityIntelligence.