20 Million Mobile Devices at High Risk of Attack, Study Finds

Meanwhile, a separate report by Google says half of all Android devices didn't install a single security update in 2016.

Steve Zurier, Contributing Writer, Dark Reading

March 23, 2017

2 Min Read

[This piece was updated and corrected with the exact (1.19%) figure from the report.]

Numbers-crunchers, check this out: In a new report released this morning, Skycure found that 1.19% of all mobile devices are at high risk for malware infections.

While that might sound like a good number, Varun Kohli, vice president of marketing at Skycure, explains that 1.19% of 2 billion mobile devices worldwide translates to 23.8 million infected devices.

"It's kind of deceiving, but for a company with 1,000 employees that means that 10 devices are at high risk," Kohli says. "All a bad guy needs is one device to get into the network and start compromising data."

The study also found that 71% of mobile devices are running on security patches that are at least two months old. This information is fairly in line with Google's newly published Android Security report, which found that about 50% of Android devices didn't install a single security update in 2016.

"We still see a lot of vulnerabilities on mobile devices, especially as people hold on to their devices longer," says Phil Hochmuth, program director for enterprise mobility at IDC. "However, mobile security is getting better, the biometrics have improved, and at corporations if people bring their own devices, they have to comply with the company’s mobile management software."

Mobile malware - adware, hidden apps, potentially unwanted apps, spyware, and Trojans - grew more than 500% from the first quarter of 2016 to the fourth quarter of that year, according to Skycure's data.

Skycure's Kohli offers tips for locking down mobile devices:

1.  Think before you click. Don't click, install, or connect to anything that you don't think is safe.

2.  Update right away. Always update to the latest mobile security patch as soon as it's available.

3.  Consider mobile threat management software. IDC's Hochmuth says this software has not been automatic in the mobile world as it has been on the desktop, but that's changing.

4.  Don't run third-party apps. Only download apps from official app stores such as the Apple App Store or Google Play. Skycure estimates that users who download apps at third-party app stores are 72% more likely to be infected by malware.

5.  Be careful on public WiFi networks. Don't run sensitive data on a public WiFi network. And when connecting to a WiFi network, make sure it's a legitimate one. Skycure hosts a site that shows bad WiFi networks in your area, maps.skycure.com.

6.  Use strong passwords. Skycure estimates that 20 to 30% of users don't have simple password protection. This is the most simple thing people can do and it’s becoming easier as fingerprint biometrics have improved.

About the Author(s)

Steve Zurier

Contributing Writer, Dark Reading

Steve Zurier has more than 30 years of journalism and publishing experience and has covered networking, security, and IT as a writer and editor since 1992. Steve is based in Columbia, Md.

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