83% of mobile operators have been hit by mobile device infections

McAfee announced findings from new research that reveals mobile operators globally are experiencing more mobile malware attacks than ever before, and spending more time and money on recovery from these attacks. The research found that nearly half of the operators who have experienced mobile malware outbreaks have had one within the last three months. Twice as many mobile operators spent over $200,000 on mobile security in 2006, compared to 2005.

The Informa Telecoms & Mediastudy, sponsored by McAfee, is one of the first of its kind to examine in detail mobile operators’ past experiences, current attitudes and future plans with regards to mobile security. The research reveals that mobile operators are already feeling the impact of mobile threats on customer satisfaction and network performance and are increasingly concerned about the potential impact on their brand and the success of new revenue-generating services.

The purpose of the study was to discover to what extent mobile operators are affected by mobile threats. The findings revealed that:

– 83 percent of mobile operators questioned have been hit by mobile device infections

– The number of reported security incidents in 2006 was more than five times as high as in 2005

– The number of mobile operators in Europe and APAC reporting incidents affecting more than 1,000 devices more than doubled in 2006

– 100 percent more operators spent over $200,000 on mobile security in 2006 compared to 2005

– The number of mobile operators estimating that the cost of dealing with mobile threats is more than 1000 hours increased by 700 percent

The main impact of security incidents was on customer satisfaction, a key issue in an industry still plagued by high turnover. Nearly one-third (29 percent) of operators stated that subscriber satisfaction had suffered more than any other factor including revenue. The second most serious impact from mobile malware infections was on network performance.

The research clearly indicates that mobile operators are concerned with the impact of mobile security on their business. Almost 80 percent cited impact on public relations or their brand as of high concern, closely followed by the loss of credibility in the reliability of new services – a crucial issue as operators seek to increase average revenue per user (ARPU) and lifetime value in maturing markets.

Despite the fact that most mobile operators are experiencing mobile security incidents and are concerned with its future impact, the research also highlights a large gap between the kind of protection operators consider important and that which they actually deploy. Less than one-third of the operators who consider application and device-level protection important actually deploy protection at these levels. Furthermore, although fewer operators consider network level protection important, more than half deploy protection at this level.

In line with the growing importance of mobile security to service providers, 85 percent of those questioned plan to increase their mobile security budgets to tackle issues including network intrusion, mobile viruses, denial-of-service attacks, spam and mobile phishing (SMiShing.)

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