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Adware: the most pervasive mobile threat

“As mobile marches on, the threat landscape continues to evolve. Like any entrepreneur, the bad guys go where the opportunity exists and focus on the business models that are most successful – and like many businesses, there are differences that can be seen at the country level based on economics of a given region,” said Jeremy Linden, Lookout’s security product manager, explaining the findings in a blog post.

Across US, UK, Germany, India and Japan, the most pervasive threat is adware, according to the report. The global likelihood of a new Android Lookout user having adware installed on their device is 1.6%. 

While not always the riskiest threat, “adware disturbs the mobile user experience and collects sensitive information through an ad platform without a user’s knowledge,” Linden said. “Chargeware, applications that sneakily charge users without making it clear, comes in second place behind adware in most countries.”

Meanwhile surveillanceware, commercial programs designed to capture and transmit sensitive user information without their knowledge, affects an estimated .24% of US Android users. Trojans, programs that appear legit but perform illicit activity when they run, are encountered by 0.5% of new Lookout users.

Of course, the percentages are still tony compared to the level of threats to PCs. Even so, it bears watching, Linden said. “While an individual’s chance of encountering a mobile threat is still relatively low, it’s important to identify the types of emerging threats and how they vary in likelihood around the world, providing a better sense of how the bad actors are experimenting,” Linden said.

Mobile consumers are constantly bombarded with threats and annoyances, whether they’re street hieves, lost phones, annoying adware or malicious Trojans, he added. “Having awareness of your mobile environment, be it when you’re talking, texting, downloading or clicking on links is the key to keeping your phone and personal information safe.”

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