Monday, March 27, 2023

Symantec 2014 Internet Security Threat Report: More Android malware, iOS has the highest number of vulnerabilities

Attackers are researching what they can do on Android, and their attacks are becoming more sophisticated according to Symantec in its latest 2014 Internet Security Threat Report, Volume 19.


Symantec is saying that Android is the most targeted mobile operating system platform with 97% of the total threat while they were 0% threat against iOS. Symantec tracks the number of threats discovered against mobile platforms by tracking malicious threats identified by Symantec’s own security products. However, unlike on Android, Symantec’s Norton Mobile Security for iOS does not offer any mobile malware protection.

It could be possible that there are 0% threat against iOS because Symantec wasn’t able to track these threat and it was also revealed that the data does not include threats on jailbroken iOS devices.


Despite no iOS malware that were found, the platform has the highest number of vulnerability at 108 while Android has 17 vulnerabilities that were documented in 2013.

Below are some of the mobile threat classification:

  • Track User- Risks that spy on the individual using the device, collecting SMS messages or phone call logs, tracking GPS coordinates, recording phone calls, or gathering pictures and video taken with the device.
  • Steal Information- This includes the collection of both device- and user-specific data, such as device information, configuration data, or banking details.
  • Traditional Threats- Threats that carry out traditional malware functions, such as back doors and downloaders.
  • Recongure Device- These types of risks attempt to elevate privileges or simply modify various settings within the operating system.
  • Adware/Annoyance- Mobile risks that display advertising or generally perform actions to disrupt the user.
  • Send Content- These risks will send text messages to premium SMS numbers, ultimately appearing on the bill of the device’s owner. Other risks can be used to send spam messages.

The number of threats that track users has increased in 2013, from 15 to 30 percent, doubling since 2012. This is perhaps an indication that this type of data is of more commercial value to the cybercriminals.

“The attraction of the mobile environment to attackers is clearly based on the size and growth rate of the user base today. Yet it’s also based on the amount of personal information that’s easily attainable once an attacker is on the device. With the right permissions the device’s phone number, GPS coordinates, camera, and other information become readily available.”

Key mobile findings in the 2014 Internet Security Threat Report, Volume 19:

  • There were 57 new Android malware families identified in 2013, compared with 103 in 2012
  • The average number of variants per family in 2013 was 57, compared with 38 in 2012. Although the overall number of new mobile malware families was much lower than in the previous year, the number of variants for each family is now much higher. This is likely to be a result of mobile malware toolkits allowing the attackers to repackage and customize their malware variants more easily, and in so doing using them much more widely.
  • As we have seen in previous years, a high number of vulnerabilities for a mobile OS do not necessarily lead to malware that exploits those vulnerabilities. Overall, there were 127 mobile vulnerabilities published in 2013, compared with 416 in 2012, a decrease of 69 percent.
  • Further analysis of mobile malware and spyware indicated the highest type of activity under taken on a compromised device was to spy on the user, 28 percent in 2013 compared with 12 percent in 2012. 17 percent of malicious mobile activity was designed to steal data in 2013, compared with 27 percent in 2012

In general, in 2013, there was a 62 percent increase in the number of data breaches globally from the previous year, resulting in more than 552 million identities exposed – proving cybercrime remains a real and damaging threat to consumers and businesses alike.

Nigel Tan, Director of Systems Engineering at Symantec Malaysia said, “Malaysia’s Internet security profile declined last year and ranked 33rd among countries globally on Internet security threat activities. This is a clear indication that cybercriminals have not slowed down, in fact they are increasing the efficiency of their campaigns and have their eye on Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) with less than 500 employees, in particular the healthcare and transport/utility sectors in Malaysia.”

Targeted attacks were up 91 percent globally in 2013 and lasted an average of three times longer compared to 2012. Personal assistants and those working in public relations were the two most targeted professions – cybercriminals use them as a stepping stone toward higher-profile targets like celebrities or business executives.

[Download PDF]– Symantec 2014 Internet Security Threat Report, Volume 19

Kugan is the co-founder of MalaysianWireless. He has been observing the mobile industry since 2003. Connect with him on Twitter: @scamboy

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