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Windows PCs and laptops have been cited as a major source of the malware that blighted mobile networks during the first half of 2015, a report from Alcatel-Lucent shows.
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Its research, compiled through data collected via the company’s own network-based malware detection tools, shows Windows-based PCs were responsible for 80% of mobile network malware infections as of June 2015.
This represents a sizeable step up from 2013-2014, when the source of mobile network infections was evenly split between Android and Windows platforms.
In light of this, the report acknowledges the 80% figure may come as something of a surprise, but Windows-based PCs and laptops remain the weapons of choice for many hardened cyber criminals and provide an easier route into networks than Android devices.
“These Windows/PCs are connected to the mobile network via dongles and mobile Wi-Fi devices or simply tethered to smartphones,” the report explains.
“They are responsible for a large percentage of the malware infections observed. This is because these devices are still the favourite of hardcore professional cyber criminals who have a huge investment in the Windows malware ecosystem,” the report stated.
“As the mobile network becomes the access network of choice for many Windows/PCs, the malware moves with them.”
Mobile security threat analysis
The aim of the report is to analyse the malware trends affecting devices connected through mobile and fixed networks during the first six months of 2015.
On the fixed network front, its analysis revealed the malware infection rate rose to 15.7% during the first quarter before dropping to 13.1% in the second quarter, while – on the mobile side – infection rates rose from 0.68% in December 2014 to 0.75% in the second quarter of 2015.
Another notable trend flagged by the report’s authors was the proliferation of malicious spyware across networks, which is reportedly distributed when users download free software or games.
This is often used to keep tabs on a phone’s location, monitor the calls it sends and receives, along with text messages and the user’s internet activities.
“Mobile spyware is definitely on the increase – 10 of the malware entries on the top 25 mobile infection list are mobile spyware,” the report stated.
“The modern smartphone presents the perfect platform for cyber espionage. First, it can be used simply as a tool the owner can use to photograph, film, record audio, scan networks and send the results immediately through the air to a safe site for analysis,” it added.