Mobile malware attacks double in 2018

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In an increasingly mobile world, cybercriminals have become aware of the vast amounts of data stored on users' smartphones which is why the number of attacks using malicious mobile software have nearly doubled in just a year according to new research from Kaspersky Lab.

Last year there were 116.5m attacks compared to 66.4m in 2017 with a significant increase in the number of unique users affected. 

However, while more devices were attacked, the number of malware files has decreased, leading the firm's researchers to conclude that the quality of mobile malware has become more impactful and precise.

These are just some of the findings unveiled in Kaspersky Lab's Mobile Malware Evolution 2018 report.

Rise in mobile malware

The success of cybercriminals' distribution strategies is shown not only by the increase in attacks but also by the number of unique users that have encountered malware. Last year, this figure rose by 774,000 to reach almost 10m affected users.

Among the threats encountered, the most significant growth noted by Kaspersky Lab was in the use of Trojan-Droppers whose share almost doubled from 8.63 percent to 17.21 percent. This type of malware was specifically designed to bypass system protection such as firewalls and antivirus software to deliver all sorts of malware from banking Trojans to ransomware.

Security expert at Kaspersky Lab, Victor Chebyshev provided further insight on the report's findings, saying:

“In 2018, mobile device users faced what could have been the fiercest cybercriminal onslaught ever seen. Over the course of the year, we observed both new mobile device infection techniques, such as DNS hijacking, along with an increased focus on enhanced distribution schemes, like SMS spam. This trend demonstrates the growing need for mobile security solutions to be installed on smartphones – to protect users from device infection attempts, regardless of the source.” 

To prevent falling victim to mobile malware, Kaspersky Lab recommends only installing apps from official stores, blocking the installation of programs from unknown sources in your smartphone's settings and installing any system or app updates when they become available.

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Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.