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Android's Still a Malware MagnetAndroid's Still a Malware Magnet

Sixty percent of mobile malware infections target Android, compared with less than 1 percent on the iPhone, Alcatel-Lucent finds.

Sarah Thomas

November 13, 2013

3 Min Read
Android's Still a Malware Magnet

Even after several years on the market and continuous software updates and security patches, Android appears to be a major target for cybercriminals.

Android accounted for 60 percent of the infections that infiltrated mobile devices in the third quarter, according to new research from Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU)'s Kindsight Security Labs division. That compared to the less than 1 percent of infections that attacked iPhones or BlackBerrys. The remaining devices were Windows computers tethered to the mobile network via a phone.

In general, malware infections of mobile networks have grown 20 percent in 2013, the report says. In the third quarter, 0.6 percent of devices were infected, versus 0.52 percent in the first quarter, but the infection rate was more than 1 percent only on Android devices. (See: Alcatel-Lucent Unveils Motive Big Network Analytics Solution.)

Alcatel-Lucent put out its findings one week after F-Secure Corp. reported finding 259 new mobile threat families and variants of old ones in the third quarter of this year. Of those, 252 attacked Android, compared to seven that infected old Symbian devices. (See: F-Secure Finds 252 New Android Threats.)

I admit I didn't realize the Android malware issue was still such a big issue. The potential for wrongdoing has been a criticism of its open ecosystem since day one, but it appears the hackers and cybercriminals are innovating just as fast as Android is on its operating system.

A lot of times, the infections are brought on by user error -- downloading a nefarious app, unlocking a device, or updating to insecure software. The wireless operators are stepping up to help address the issue, which can hurt the customer experience or even their networks. It can also be a revenue generator, which is another big reason they're interested.

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), for example, has begun bundling in Lookout mobile security software with all its Android smartphones and tablets. It will get a cut of the profits for each customer who upgrades from the free app to the premium version, and its customers don't have to feel insecure about using an Android.

This, along with the more network-centric aspects of security, will be the focus of our live chat tomorrow, as well as the Mobile Network Security Strategies conference next month in New York. Plan to join us right here on our Live Chat Message Boards at 11:00 a.m. EST/8:00 a.m. PST, but consider logging in from your computer and not your Android phone.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to Mobile Network Security Strategies, a Light Reading Live event that takes place on December 5, 2013 at the Westin Times Square Hotel in New York City. For more information, or to register, click


About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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