Mobility has changed the way we interact with each other and the world around us. Mobile devices, regardless of size, shape or hardware specifications, are all connected to the internet and seem to pick up many of the tasks that we used to do on our desktops not long ago.
In fact, around 52.7 percent of all global internet users in 2015 accessed the internet from mobile devices, according to recent stats. Taking into account that 87 percent of people have their smartphones at their side all the time, it’s clear that the number of users accessing the internet from smartphones will increase within the next couple of years.
Mobile device dependency has reached the point where 68 percent of smartphone users claim they check their devices within 15 minutes of waking up, spending an average of 177 minutes per day just looking at their 4-inch screens.
Naturally, spending these micro-moments checking our smartphones has opened up new opportunities for marketers, who are constantly trying to both improve the consumer decision journey when selling goods or services and also deliver the right messages to the right audience. Consequently, more online searches take place from mobile devices than from computers, as 48 percent of users turn to their smartphones when researching for goods or work-related activities.
As mobile devices started playing a pivotal role in our lives, it was only a matter of time before malware developers would seize the opportunity and start designing threats that go beyond the traditional computer. Mobile malware has gone through significant changes and “improvements” over the past couple of years, but it seemed to have emulated the same behavior as traditional PC threats.
For instance, mobile malware started as just a couple of applications intended to display ads, messages and other types of marketing, much like traditional PC adware. However, all that changed with ransomware, the malware that encrypts users’ PC data and demands payment to restore access to it.
Because it was so prolific on PCs and generated hundreds of millions of dollars – from just a single ransomware family in only a couple of months– attackers have turned to the Android mobile operating system as the next best source of revenue.
Android has been expected to grow to account for 84 percent of mobile shipments in 2016, rising at least three percentage points from 2015’s 81 percent, according to IDC. Consequently, the likelihood of infecting Android mobile users with malicious software – ransomware for one –could not have been ignored by malware developers. More than 50 percent of PC ransomware victims actually ending up paying to recover their encrypted files, and it’s entirely possible that the same will hold true for Android users.
So, ransomware is not only good business, but some countries seem to have been particularly targeted by the threat. Ranking as the top threat in Germany, UK, and Australia in the second half of 2015, Android ransomware has been a serious threat for some countries. However, 45.53 percent of all globally reported Android ransomware came from the US, according to the same study.
Avoiding Android Malware
It’s become obvious that Android devices also need to be secured, as they’re not only hosting tons of personal data and information, but they can also be rendered inoperable if infected by a persistent threat. The threats used to target PC users seem to have been ported to Android, meaning that users need to start thinking of securing their devices.
One way of going about it is to install a mobile security solution, as it’s more than able to scan for malicious applications and even filter malicious or fraudulent websites that could trick you into revealing banking or personal information. Of course, a good idea is to also make sure that all downloaded and installed apps come only from official marketplaces. This reduces the chances of installing malware, even though there have been isolated instances where the vetting process allowed caused malicious apps to creep in.