According to Lookout’s State of Mobile Security Report 2012, “Toll Fraud” malware has become the most prevalent type of malware within the past year due to the global ubiquity as a phone payment mechanism.
Mobile malware has become a profitable industry but, naturally, there are places on this globe of ours where it’s more profitable than in others – namely China, Russia and Iran.
There are several reasons behind the malware writers’ obvious preference for these countries.
For one, the local mobile users are not fans of paying for apps, so they are more likely to turn to third party online app marketplaces where they can find – apparently for free – the same apps that they would have to pay for on legitimate markets.
Secondly, the popularity of those unofficial app markets wouldn’t be a problem in itself (well, except for the app developers looking to earn a buck), were it not for the fact that such markets rarely have thorough checks or vetting processes in place in order to spot potentially malicious apps.
Thirdly, safeguards – such as double opt-ins or the option of barring all premium SMS from mobile phones – devised to protect customers from unwanted subscriptions to premium SMS services are still not required by local law, making it easy for the malware to carry out what it has been created to do.
Still, that doesn’t mean that the users in less affected regions should be complacent. “Wherever there’s money to be made or personal data to take advantage of, there are malware writers working to benefit,” Lookout warns.