Report Claims Huge Rise in Mobile Fraud Malware

Lookout Mobile Security has issued their 2012 report into the threats they are encountering, and it makes for both uncomfortable and compelling reading. You can find the report here. One of Lookout’s conclusions is that there has been a huge rise in mobile malware which exploits unwary customers by secretly connecting to premium SMS services. And the report names Russia as the global cesspool for fraud malware, due to its lax regulatory regime and the fact that a staggering 41.6% of Russian devices harbour at least one example of malware or spyware.

It appears the problem with Russian mobiles and business practices is so extensive that it occupies the full spectrum from legally (but immorally) cheating customers on one end, to out-and-out crime on the other end. A recent BBC story highlighted customer outrage with Russian networks like MTS. MTS and other networks send customers an SMS telling them they have been signed up for services they did not ask for. If the customer does not cancel in time, they are walloped with the bill. And in the UK, the premium service regulator issued a GBP50k (USD80k) fine to a Russian firm that supplied dodgy Android software. Once installed, the software sent texts to a premium service without the knowledge of customers. The regulator’s adjudication is summarized here.

There is a global epidemic of stealing from and ripping off mobile users. Operators with integrity face an uphill task in preserving the trust of the public. And the evidence from Russia reveals how, when the rot sets in, it soon spreads and infects everything.

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is a recognized expert on communications risk and assurance. He was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and others.

Eric was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He was a member of Qatar's National Committee for Internet Safety and the first leader of the TM Forum's Enterprise Risk Management team. Eric currently sits on the committee of the Risk & Assurance Group. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.

Commsrisk is edited by Eric. Look here for more about Eric's history as editor.