Mobile malware a universal threat around the globe: Check Point
Mobile malware a universal threat around the globe: Check Point

When it comes to avoiding mobile malware no company anywhere on the planet is immune.

The recent Check Point Mobile Threat Research report found that of the 850 organizations worldwide, 51 percent in the EMEA, 31 percent in the Americas and 19 percent in APAC, all had experienced at least one mobile attack in the last year with the average being 54 per company. Behind this was the finding that 75 percent of the surveyed companies had at least one jailbroken iOS or rooted Android device with the average number per organization being 35.

“These results are concerning because the process of rooting or jailbreaking a device strips away all built-in security provided by the iOS and Android operating systems,” the report said.

The financial and government sectors were the most targeted with malware with the former area absorbing 29 percent of the attacks and the latter close behind with 26 percent. Technology firms were third with 18 percent, while telcos, manufacturing and retail were in the 6 percent to 8 percent range.

Check Point broke down this part of the report a bit further disproving the notion that iOS devices are less likely to be targeted.  Instead it found financial industry was particularly hit with iOS malware with 40 percent hitting this sector, twice as much government which was the next most hit industry.

The report also showed that different sectors attracted specific type of attacks. Government was very popular with cybercriminals pushing premium dialers, which abuse SMS and call permissions to charge the device's owner for fraudulent calls and text messages to premium services.

The financial sector was also the primary target for the remaining three types of mobile malware that was studied, info stealers, rough ad networks and RATs. The last attack is incredibly dangerous as it can use all the sensor types available on the device. This includes activating the camera or audio so the criminal can see and listen in to the device owner's activities.

Mobile malware attacks were spread more or less evenly between the three regions studied. The Americas region, comprised of North and South America, was hit the worst garnering 39 percent of the mobile malware attacks — mostly in the United States ­— with APAC suffering 33 percent of the attacks and the EMEA 28 percent.

Even though Check Point said mobile malware is basically ubiquitous the company concluded that it is probably going to get much worse with every region experiencing an increased amount of malware.

“We can only expect mobile attacks to increase in proportion and sophistication in the years ahead. For perpetrators the world of mobile devices holds great potential: they are easier to hack and they possess even more sensitive information than PCs. We expect the financial services sector to continue to be a primary target of cybercriminals, followed by government agencies, as these two sectors protect the most valuable assets,” the report said.