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Mobile malware: Worst yet to come

MANILA, Philippines - The mobile cyber scourge is getting worse, with the volume of ransomware said to have tripled during the first few months of 2017, according to global cyber security firm Kaspersky Lab.

Being one of the most active on internet social media with high penetration of smartphones and smartphone usage, the Philippines has landed among the top 10 countries most attacked by mobile malware.

Results of Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) revealed that nearly three in 10 Filipinos were infected with mobile threats in the first quarter of 2017.

The report showed the Philippines ranked eighth on the list of countries most attacked by mobile malware with 27.98 percent. This is a six-point jump from 2016’s third quarter statistics at 21.67 percent.

The percentage is relative to all users of Kaspersky Lab’s mobile security products in the country.

According to Kaspersky Lab’s Malware Report for the first quarter 2017, the number of mobile ransomware files detected reached 218,625, compared to 61,832 in the previous quarter, with the Congur family accounting for more than 86 percent.

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Ransomware targeting all devices, systems and networks also continued to grow, with 11 new cryptor families and 55,679 new modifications making their appearance in Q1.

Congur ransomware is primarily a blocker – setting or resetting the device PIN (passcode) that requires the attackers to have administrator rights on the device. Some variants of the malware take further advantage of these rights to install their module into the system folder from where it is almost impossible to remove.  

The United States was hardest hit by mobile ransomware in Q1, with Svpeng ransomware the most widespread threat.

“The mobile threat landscape for ransomware was far from calm in Q1. Ransomware targeting mobile devices soared, with new ransomware families and modifications continuing to proliferate. People need to bear in mind that attackers can – and increasingly will – try to block access to their data not only on a PC but also on their mobile device,” notes Roman Unuchek, senior malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

Iran scored the highest percentage of users attacked by mobile malware at 47.35 percent. Bangladesh came second with 36.25 percent of users who encountered a mobile threat at least once during the quarter. It was followed by Indonesia and China whose shares were slightly over 32 percent each.

Nepal ranked sixth at 29.90 percent, followed by India (29.09 percent) and Algeria (28.64 percent). The ninth and tenth places were for Nigeria (27.81 percent) and Ghana (25.85 percent).

The safest countries in terms of mobile threats were Finland (2.7 percent), Georgia (2.5 percent) and Japan (1.5 percent).

The KSN report showed that Kaspersky Lab solutions detected and repelled 479,528,279 malicious attacks from online resources located in 190 countries all over the world.

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