Over 153,000 Users Were Hit by Mobile Ransomware in 2016

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According to Kaspersky Lab's recent Mobile Malware Evolution 2016 [PDF] report, 153,258 unique users from 167 countries were targeted by mobile ransomware in 2016, 1.6 times as many as in 2015 -- and 2016 saw more than 260,000 detections of installation packages for mobile ransomware Trojans, almost 8.5 times as many as in 2015.

More than 305,000 users in 164 countries were attacked by mobile banking Trojans in 2016, up from just 56,000 users in 137 countries the previous year.

"This year, we will continue to closely monitor the development of mobile banking Trojans; the developers of this class of malware are the first to use new technologies and are always looking for ways to bypass security mechanisms implemented in the latest versions of mobile operating systems," the report states.

In 2016, Kaspersky Lab detected almost 40 million attack attempts by mobile malware in total. In the span of just one year, the report states, a volume equivalent to half of all the malware detected over the previous 11 years was released.

Mobile advertising Trojans were the most widespread variety in 2016, accounting for 16 of the top 20 malware programs. While these Trojans display ads on infected devices, they can also install other apps and make purchases on Google Play.

"In 2016, the growth in the number of advertising Trojans capable of exploiting super-user rights continued," Kaspersky Lab senior malware analyst Roman Unucheck said in a statement. "Throughout the year, it was the top threat and we see no sign of this trend changing. Cybercriminals are taking advantage of the fact that most devices do not receive OS updates (or receive them late), and are thus vulnerable to old, well-known and readily available exploits."

"Moreover, we see that the mobile landscape is getting a little crowded for cybercriminals, and they are beginning to interact more with the world beyond smartphones," Unucheck added. "Perhaps in 2017 we will see major attacks on IoT components launched from mobile devices."

Separately, a recent Allot Communications survey of 2,150 mobile users worldwide found that while just 11 percent of consumers currently pay for a mobile security solution, 61 percent want and would be willing to pay for mobile protection services directly from their service provider.

Sixty-eight percent of mobile Internet consumers are aware of malware -- of those, one in seven have experienced a malware attack in the past 12 months.

When facing a malware incident, 26 percent of respondents contact their service provider, another 26 percent contact the app developer, and 35 percent contact no one.

"Our survey has revealed consumers are demanding simplified protection for their various connected devices and are willing to pay for it," Allot Communications AVP of marketing Yaniv Sulkes said in a statement.