Smartphone Malware Infections Rising in 2016: Nokia

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By Daniel R. Stoller

Sept. 1 — Finland-based telecommunications company Nokia Oyj Inc. announced Sept. 1 that the number of all mobile devices, not just its own, infected with malware has nearly doubled in the first half of 2016 compared to the second half of 2015.

Mobile phone-based malware attacks hit an all-time high in April 2016 with 1.1 percent of mobile devices hit by an attack, Nokia said in their Threat Intelligence Report for the first half of 2016.

Although the attacks were seen across all mobile operations platforms, Alphabet Inc.'s operating system Android was targeted the most—74 percent of the attacks tracked. Other major mobile operating systems—Apple Inc.'s iOS (4 percent) and Microsoft Corp.'s Windows (22 percent)—received less attention from attackers.

Nokia also said malware attacks have become increasingly sophisticated. The malware is increasingly difficult to remove from smartphones because attackers “attempt to root the phone in order to provide complete control and establish a permanent presence on the device,” Nokia said.

The increase in the prevalence and sophistication of malware attacks may make companies think twice before purchasing smartphones for employees. Nokia's report will make companies consider which operating system is the most secure to avoid data leaks and potentially costly trade secrets thefts.

Nokia is the second largest telecommunications equipment company in the world with a $32.82 billion market capitalization, Bloomberg data show.

Pokémon GO Infections

The popular mobile phone game Niantic Inc.'s Pokémon GO has been criticized for its privacy policies and data collection practices (15 PVLR 1560, 8/1/16). As highlighted in the report, consumers and privacy advocates may have another reason to question the safety of the mobile game.

The source of many of the attacks is downloading infected mobile games. Nokia was able to detect infected copies of popular games, such as Pokémon GO, that were posted on non-secure third-party websites. For example, an infected Pokémon GO download would allow attackers to “track the phone's location, record calls, take pictures and steal information and files from the” user's smartphone, Nokia said.

The top three malware threats, which accounts for 47 percent of all attacks, remained the same from last year: Uapush.A, Kasandra.B and SMStracker.

The malware “attackers are targeting a broader range of applications and platforms, including popular mobile games and new IoT devices, and developing more sophisticated and destructive forms of malware,” Kevin McNamee, head of the Nokia Threat Intelligence Lab, said in a Sept. 1 statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel R. Stoller in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Donald G. Aplin at

For More Information

The “Nokia Threat Intelligence Report” is available at

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