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Top Threat Vectors for Mobile Devices

Top Threat Vectors for Mobile Devices

Tim van der Horst

[With the release yesterday of our Mobile Malware Report for 2014, it's time to highlight some interesting research Tim conducted into the threat vectors involved in mobile malware. We're always very interested in where the Bad Stuff comes from, as we assume that users aren't purposefully trying to infect themselves. (Although sometimes we wonder.) --C.L.]

 

Mobiles devices have dramatically changed how, when, and where we access online content.

With that powerful device in your pocket you are just a couple of taps and swipes away from the wonders of the Internet.

In many ways, however, the Internet is a much different place on a mobile device. Smaller screens and more difficult text entry methods have changed how we access and view online content.

So, it's really not too surprising that mobile devices also change how we are exposed to malicious content.

 

Looking at WebPulse users as a whole, Search Engine Poisoning and e-mail spam/phishing links are by far the most prevalent vectors that drive traffic to threats. [Although malvertising has been giving them a good challenge in the last six months. --C.L.]

Drilling down to traffic from our mobile users, however, we see a much different picture. Here are some stats from a recent week of traffic:

 

Table 1. Top Ten Threat Vectors for Mobile Devices (Feb 2014)

Web Ads/Analytics

19.69%

Suspicious

16.68%

Pornography

16.55%

Mixed Content/Potentially Adult

4.19%

Uncategorized

4.10%

Audio/Video Clips

3.79%

Entertainment

3.43%

Search Engines/Portals

3.13%

News/Media

3.13%

Sports/Recreation

2.62%

 

Web ads and porn are clearly the dominate drivers. Search engines barely make it into the top 10. [We'll discount Suspicious, since those are sites already strongly suspected (or even known) to be shady. --C.L.]

Now, compare this to mobile threat vector data we collected 18 months ago:

 

Table 2. Top Ten Threat Vectors for Mobile Devices (July 2012)

Pornography

22.16%

Suspicious

14.09%

Computers/Internet

7.26%

Web Advertisements

5.69%

Entertainment

4.99%

Unrated

4.30%

Search Engines/Portals

3.69%

Business/Economy

3.38%

News/Media

3.29%

Newsgroups/Forums

3.10%

 

While Porn continues to be a top driver for threats, Web Ads has certainly made quite a leap.

Clearly, mobile advertising has come a long way over the past year, and not in a good way.

 

--TvdH

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