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Browse through a few security headlines on a tech website and you’ll know that mobile malware is all the rage these days. Android malware, iOS malware, app malware…it’s almost enough to forget that PC malware exists.
But according to one security firm, the dangers of mobile malware have been “overhyped”.
That security firm is Damballa, which presented a study at this past week’s RSA Conference 2015 in San Francisco.
Damballa started the conference by stating that PC users are 1.3 times more likely to get struck by lightning than to be infected by mobile malware.
Damballa agreed that mobile malware is a “real threat”, although the true extent of the threat is poorly understood.
The firm performed network-level analysis across millions of devices with the goal of analyzing the underlying infrastructure of mobile traffic and the risks that are likely to appear in the future. By understanding these risks, Damballa can better provide firms with the recommendations they need to bolster security.
Ultimately, Damballa analyzed 50% of mobile traffic in the United States. Here are some of the important findings they discovered below.
Crazy Mobile Malware Statistics
-Damballa originally performed a similar study back in 2012, in which it monitored 33% of mobile traffic in the United States. 2014’s study analyzed 49% of US mobile data traffic. The firm then compared the results.
-21 mobile devices were seen per day in 2012 compared to an average of 143 million in 2014
-A total of 3,492 devices out of 23 million were observed contacting a domain on the “mobile blacklist”, or MBL, in 2012. That’s just 0.015% of all devices contacting malicious servers.
-In 2014, that number sank even lower, dropping to 0.0064% (9,688 out of 151 million). Only 0.0064% of U.S. mobile users were observed contacting malicious servers in the analysis period.
-According to the US National Weather service, the odds of being struck by lightning once in your lifetime are 0.01%
-Damballa didn’t stop its comparisons with the lightning strikes: next, the presenter said that mobile malware is kind of like ebola. It’s undoubtedly harmful, but it’s also greatly exaggerated and only affects a small percentage of the population.
So Where Do Mobile Malware Threats Come From?
Obviously, you’ve seen reports saying there are millions of mobile malware infections out there and deadly apps are waiting just around the corner.
So where do these statistics come from?
According to Damballa, the vast majority of mobile malware comes from outside the United States. It’s particularly prevalent in developing countries like India and China.
It’s also extremely prevalent outside the Google Play Store and iTunes app store. If you download apps exclusively from these stores, you’re even less likely to be infected by malware.
Google has developed services like Bouncer that scan Play Store apps for malicious activity. Apple takes an even more labor-intensive approach and manually approves each and every app that goes onto the app store.
Have you ever been struck by lightning? Probably not. You’re also probably never going to get struck by lightning. You’re 1.3 times more likely to get struck by lightning than to get struck by mobile malware – so maybe it’s time to delete that mobile antivirus app.