How the Mobile Threat Landscape Changes Around the World

Sue Marquette Poremba

A lot of surveys and studies take a look at threats from a global point of view, particularly where they are originating and the cost effect of a breach in one country versus another. Lookout also decided to look at the global threat landscape, but in a slightly different way. The mobile security platform has decided to look at mobile threats to see how they uniquely affect different countries. Mobile threats are not universal.

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Lookout studied the mobile threat data from five countries – U.S., UK, Germany, India and Japan – and identified the key threats in each of those countries. Adware was the most dominate threat in each country; Lookout speculated that the reason is because there are no clear guidelines for mobile advertising and adware is a lucrative business. Lookout discovered that India’s rate of adware threat is much higher than any other country, while Japan’s is relatively low. Germany also has a high adware threat – second to India – but it is also the most at risk for a Trojan.

What are our biggest mobile threats in the United States? According to Lookout, after adware, Trojans and surveillanceware are equal risks. In fact, surveillanceware is more prevalent in the U.S. than in the other countries. Why? Lookout claimed it is because surveillanceware has found a “quasi-legal position in the market place.”

At a first glance, you can look at the numbers and think, wow, that percentage of threats is pretty low:

We found that the global likelihood of a new Android Lookout user having adware installed on their device is 1.6 percent. Malware threats like spyware, surveillanceware and Trojans are also proliferating. Surveillanceware, commercial programs designed to capture and transmit sensitive user information without their knowledge, affects an estimated .24 percent of U.S. Android users. Trojans, programs that appear legit but perform illicit activity when they run, are encountered by 0.5 percent of new Lookout users.

Take a second look. These are Lookout users (full disclosure: I have Lookout on my mobile devices). These are people who are already taking steps to protect their devices with a pretty reliable security platform. Yet, malware threats still find their way on to mobile devices, even when they are protected. What must the numbers look like for the folks who haven’t added a mobile security app to their device?

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