NQ Mobile sees record growth in malware threats in 2013

Based on insights from more than 250 security professionals, the NQ Mobile 2013 Mid-year Security Report was released today, and it’s packed full of information about the current state of mobile security.

We encourage you to read the full report, but here are some highlights for you to get started on:

  • The top five most infected markets in 2013 along with their respective share of the world’s mobile infected devices were China (31.71 percent), Russia (17.15 percent), India (10.38 percent), USA (6.53 percent) and Thailand (6.04 percent).
  • China continued to be the leading market for infected mobile devices with over 6.7 million new device infections – a 43 percent increase from 1Q to 2Q 2013.
  • Ukraine saw the most dramatic increase, growing 485 percent from 1Q to 2Q 2013. Russia and Ukraine together now account for almost 20 percent of the world’s new mobile infections.
  • New mobile infections in Saudi Arabia grew 28.46 percent from 1Q to 2Q 2013.
  • The Southeast Asia countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam all made the top 10 most infected market list. When combined, these countries make up 12.01 percent of the world’s total mobile malware infections.
  • India and the United States saw the most dramatic reductions in new malware infections – with 88 and 63 percent decreases, respectively, from 1Q to 2Q 2013.
  • The top three methods for delivering malware in 2013 continue to be app repackaging, malicious URLs, and smishing.

NQ Mobile’s 2013 Mid-Year Security Report is based on insights from NQ Mobile’s Security Lab, a team of more than 250 mobile security professionals, scientists and developers around the world who proactively monitor the mobile landscape for new malware threats and mobile hacking methods. This report is also based on data collected using NQ Mobile proprietary tools and services.

Why the Smartphone’s Not Dead Yet…neither is the TV nor the PC

Have you read the news? The PC is dead!

It seems that every few months, we read that some technology or another has reached obsolescence. This month, the tech community is aflutter with the news that the PC is dead. Blackberry is failing, Dell is in the dumps, and sales have shown their greatest decline in 20 years.

But obituaries for almost any technology are greatly exaggerated. Music is a good case in point. Ask nearly anyone and they’ll tell you the LP is dead, but the reality is that sales of vinyl records were up 16.3 Percent in 2012 and on their way to another record-setting year. The true story isn’t of death, but of rebirth, and that couldn’t be truer than for today’s independent musicians who have countless options for digitally selling, promoting and distributing their music. It is analogous to what we are seeing with the PC. Has physical music retailing died because artists are selling their songs through Bandcamp or iTunes? Hardly – if anything, it democratizes the selling process for artists.

Browsing for vinyl at Amoeba Records

Jared Kelly via Compfight

PC sales are in decline – that’s true. But I still use a laptop on a daily basis, as do most people I know. Yes, my most recent purchase was a tablet, but there are some tasks that are simply more suitable to a PC. Video editing, graphic design, hard-core gaming, creating presentations, spreadsheets, and even writing are just better on a PC.  Even though I may not carry my laptop with me as much as I used to, that doesn’t mean I don’t need it. And if it breaks, I will buy another.

When you think about it, the PC isn’t dying as much as it is getting a longer life. As prices for components have decreased and the ability to swap out hard drives and update operating systems has increased, there just aren’t as many reasons to buy a new PC. Meanwhile, that tablet I just bought is bound to be outclassed by the-next-big-thing within the few months. Or I may drop it and break the screen. Or it may get stolen.  In fact, I may go through 3 or 4 tablets in the time between now and when I feel the need to replace my PC.

A similar story can be told with smartphones. According to comScore’s latest MobiLens report, The US is now at 55% smartphone penetration. As Henry Blodget explains in depth in an insightful post, once the halfway mark is crossed, we should expect incremental growth to decline, and once the market is saturated, unit growth will flatten. Yes, some people will break their phones or lose their smartphone, and then they’ll need a new one, but the explosion will be over.

Part of the issue is exactly what criteria we use to define the hardware we use. A PC is a personal computer. This is a definition based on functionality. A tablet is flat and has a touch screen. This is a definition based on form factor. As it becomes more common to add keyboards and other peripherals to a tablet, at what point does that tablet cross the line to be considered a personal computer?

Giant tablet is giant

ScaarAT via Compfight

“Smartphone” is hardware defined by its function. It’s called a smartphone because we can make calls on it as well do a host of other things like watch movies, surf the internet and use applications. As the number of things we can do with our smartphones increases, the amount of time we spend using them to actually make calls is decreasing. If I never use my phone as a phone, does it become a tablet? What if I use my tablet to make Skype calls? Is it then just a big smartphone?   And, have you seen the size of the screens on the Samsung Galaxy Note 2  – a phablet?

We can even throw TV – another piece of hardware whose demise has been projected – into the mix.  But as IFC President Evan Shapiro noted:

Once a decade, conventional wisdom decides that television will be killed off by a new technology. The VCR was going to destroy the Television Business. Then the DVD. Next, the DVR was going to ‘ruin the ecosystem.’ Yet, to date, each of those predictions have been, well, wrong. To date, nothing has killed, or even seriously wounded television.

Is TV a function or a form factor? Or is it neither? Most often, when we talk about television, we’re really talking about a service. And that service has evolved remarkably over the years. The current conversation surrounds cord cutting.  50 years ago, when television was broadcast, there weren’t cords to cut.

Television is perhaps the best model for these types of conversations. It’s not the story of one form factor. It’s a story of evolution and innovation, one of building and growing of a complete ecosystem. The actual hardware itself may have gotten the story started, but the history is still being written.

Perhaps the same is true of phones and tablets and PCs. In another 50 years, perhaps none will be gone, we just may not recognize them.

Monday Malware Report for July 8, 2013

In this ongoing series we discuss notable mobile malware news from the past week.

Magna Carta Holy Grail

Elliott Scott via Compfight

  • This week, Bluebox Security announced their discovery of a vulnerability that affects all Android devices since the release of the 1.6 (Donut) OS. The vulnerability allows malicious updates to an app’s code, while leaving the cryptographic signature unchanged. Because Android analyzes the cryptographic signature to determine if an app is malicious, this vulnerability results in a significant security breach. Here’s the good news. Google has already updated their Play Store to ensure this malware is blocked. The bad news? You’re still at risk if you’re downloading from 3rd party app stores.
  • While not necessarily malware, alarm bells rang last week upon the release of the Jay Z Magna Carta app. Sharp-eyed fans, excited by the promise of being able to listen to the new album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, a full three days prior to its release, were stunned when the music app presented them with a long list of requested permissions. For example, the app requested the ability to prevent the phone from sleeping and to see who you’re talking to on the phone. Even worse, pirated versions of the app with embedded malware were circulating. While more of a nuisance than a threat (the pirated app delivered a political message—not a malicious payload), concerns were raised when it was discovered that the app had the ability to send information about the infected device to an external server.


Concerned about malware on your Android device? Make sure you’ve got a solid defense with a product like NQ Mobile Security.