Report Finds Threat of Mobile Malware Overhyped in the U.S.

Recent findings show we may not need to worry about mobile malware as much as we do.

MalwareDamballa, a company focusing on threat detection and containment, has today unveiled new research into the severity of mobile malware, which claims the threat has been greatly overhyped in the United States. Damballa monitors nearly 50 percent of all U.S. mobile traffic.

In its first study from spring 2012, Damballa was monitoring approximately 33 percent of U.S. mobile data traffic, and found only 3,492 out of a total of 23 million mobile devices, or 0.015 percent, were contacting domains on the mobile blacklist. During this initial test period, researchers saw 17 million to 25 million mobile devices per day.

In Q4 2014, the study was repeated, with Damballa monitoring 49 percent of U.S. mobile data traffic. In this new test period, researchers saw 130 million to 160 million devices per day. This data showed only 9,688 out of a total of 151 million mobile devices, or 0.0064 percent, contacted mobile black list domains.

In a statement, Charles Lever, senior scientific researcher at Damballa, commented on the results:

This research shows that mobile malware in the Unites States is very much like Ebola—harmful, but greatly over exaggerated, and contained to a limited percentage of the population that are engaging in behavior that puts them at risk for infection.

Lever will speak on this research and findings today at the RSA Conference in San Francisco.

Lever added:

Mobile operators and platforms have invested significant resources in preventing malicious applications from being installed, especially in North America … So for a majority of the population, by simply staying within the authorized app stores for their respective devices, they will drastically reduce the risk of being infected with mobile malware.

This isn’t to say malware can only be found by accessing blacklisted domains. In early 2014, Blue Coat found one in five attacks on mobile phones came from malicious ads. The lesson to learn? Don’t download apps or tap on ads that appear unsafe or suspicious.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.