1 in 63 Smartphones Infected, Survey Says

Nearly one out of every 63 smartphones powered by the Symbian operating system is infected with some form of malware, according to a new study conducted by SMobile Systems, a provider of security solutions for mobile phones.

The study of 1,958 smartphones revealed infections by spyware, viruses worms and trojans, as well as hundreds of unlicensed software programs installed on the handsets reviewed. A comparison of these statistics to the worldwide smartphone population places the number of infected devices globally into the millions.

Because the vast majority of these infections are designed to be stealthy and the fact that few smartphones posses anti-malware applications, most infected users are completely unaware their devices have been compromised, SMobile Systems noted in a press statement.

“As more and more people carry smartphones, the target-rich environment is proving to be incredibly tempting to hackers, spammers and criminals looking to steal vital information on these handsets,” said Neil Book, president of SMobile Systems. “With millions upon millions of new devices in the market, the likelihood of unwanted infection increases. The sophistication and ease of spreading malware is escalating; as such, the need for handset-based security has never been greater.”

SMobile’s CTO Daniel V. Hoffman, said many attacks are financially motivated. “The spyware we are detecting has the ability to intercept e-mail and SMS messages, allow hackers to listen-in on voice conversations and even track the location of the user,” Hoffman said. “This can have devastating repercussions to those performing online financial transactions, mobile banking or having sensitive business-oriented communications. Additionally, worms are unknowingly sending premium SMS messages from infected devices, directly charging user cell phone accounts.”

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