Mobile malware is on the rise, but there's no need to panic

Lookout seeks to inform users of the dangers facing mobile platforms.

Using data collected from its Mobile Threat Network, Lookout today released a full report on the state of mobile malware and security. The report covers both Android and iOS, and compares the risks that both platforms face. You can view and download the full report on Lookout's blog, but here are a few of the highlights:

An Increase In Android Malware: Android apps infected with malware rose from 80 in January to over 400 in June. Because of this, Android users are two and a half times more likely to encounter an infected application either in the Market or through a third-party source now than they were at the beginning of the year.

New Malware Distribution Techniques: Malware makers are getting even craftier in how they are distributing their infected wares. Malware writers can publish a clean app to the Android Market and wait until the app gets some positive reviews and gains in popularity. After an app has gained a substantial following, an infected update will be released that will turn the app malicious. This is known as an "upgrade attack".

iOS Users Don't Patch Their Devices: Since Apple distributes patches through firmware updates, users have to connect their iPhones to iTunes in order to fix security exploits. But it turns out that as many as 50 percent of iPhone users do not regularly sync their devices with iTunes to receive these critical updates. This won't be as big of a problem with iOS 5 where updates are pushed over the air (provided users upgrade to iOS 5), but until then users are vulnerable.

The full report goes into much more detail about each type of attack and includes many more details than what we covered here. Near the end of the report, Lookout gives a few quick tips on how to stay safe from mobile attacks. When we spoke with Lookout Co-Founder Kevin Mahaffey about the rise of mobile security threats, the best advice he could give on the matter was that people should not panic. He explained that the report wasn't released as a scare tactic, but rather as a way for people to become informed about the risks out there and take the necessary precautions to prevent any sort of security breach or infection.

The more that you know about the threats out there, the better you can keep an eye out for suspicious links or apps. It also doesn't hurt to have some security software installed on your phone, just in case.

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Tags online securitytelecommunicationapplicationsiosPhonesAndroidmobilemalwareAppleconsumer electronicssecuritysmartphonesMobile OSes

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Armando Rodriguez

PC World (US online)
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