Security

Android beats iOS and Windows as least-secure mobile OS, Nokia report finds

Over two-thirds of all infected devices this year ran on the Android operating system, according to recent research from Nokia. Here's how to protect your phone.

Android devices are much more likely to become infected compared to those on other operating systems, according to Nokia's 2017 Threat Intelligence Report.

Of all infected devices in the past year, 68.50% were running on the Android platform, according to the report. Windows was in second, accounting for 27.96% of infections. Around 3.54% were running iOS. Overall, 0.68% of all mobile devices were infected at some point in 2017.

This means 0.94% of all Android devices were infected, slightly above Google's 2016 Q4 estimate of 0.71%.

SEE: BYOD (bring-your-own-device) policy (Tech Pro Research)

The Android operating system is more likely to be targeted by cybercriminals, Kevin McNamee, director of Nokia's Alcatel-Lucent Kindsight Security Labs, told TechRepublic's sister site ZDNet. The biggest security threat facing Android devices and their users is trojanized apps, commonly downloaded through third-party app stores, McNamee said.

Those third-party stores do not have the same security protections the official Google Play Store has, leaving users vulnerable, McNamee said. Only 0.05% of Android devices that only installed apps from the Google Play Store became infected in 2017, according to the report.

Third-party stores are more common in China, where only 4% of Android app installs stem from the Play Store, according to the report. Researchers found the most common malware, Uapush, targeted Chinese users.

The amount of Android malware has grown by 53% over the past year, according to Nokia. Names from recent security reports, like Marcher malware, make up some of the most common malware targeting Android devices.

While less than 1% of Android users have fallen victim to an infection over the past year, there are steps users can take to avoid becoming part of that statistic. Only download apps from the official Play Store and avoid using third-party app sources. While on the Play Store, investigate potential downloads for signs of being a replica, as malware like Marcher is known for posing as fake versions of popular apps, according to the report.

While not an infection, the report also cautioned users to be aware of where their personal information could be going. More ad-funded apps from official app stores are using adware, which isn't malware but still gives the app access to personal details like contact lists and phone numbers.

Outside of mobile networks, businesses should look into new security technology to protect themselves against ransomware like WannaCry and NotPetya, which were able to work around security patches and hurt enterprise networks, the report found.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Devices using the Android operating system were the most likely to be infected this year, according to Nokia research.
  2. Out of all infected devices, 68.50% were Androids, 27.96% ran on Windows, and 3.54% used iOS.
  3. Nokia labeled trojanized apps as the top security threat to Androids. Android users should only download reputable apps from the Play Store and avoid third-party app stores.

Also see

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Image: iStockphoto/wutwhanfoto

About Olivia Krauth

Olivia Krauth is a Multiplatform Reporter at TechRepublic.

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