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A new report from Nokia warns infected smartphones are more common than thought

Why it matters to you

Smartphone security is not as bulletproof as previously thought so be sure to install an anti-virus app on your phone.

Smartphone viruses may not be a security threat you hear about every day, but they are far more common than you might think. According to Nokia on Wednesday, it found that there was an 83 percent rise in monthly smartphone infections in the second half of 2016.

In a survey of 100 million devices across Europe, North America, Asia-Pacific, and the Middle East, the rate of infections in mobile networks peaked at 1.35 percent in October and averaged about 1.08 percent in the second half of 2016. That was up from 0.66 percent in the first half of the year or 63 percent.

About 81 percent of infections were on Android devices, 15 percent on Windows devices, and four percent on iPhones and other mobile devices.

The monthly rate of infections on smartphones was 0.9 percent in the second half, up 83 percent from 0.49 percent of devices in the first half. Over the entire year, infections rose a whopping 400 percent.

About 81 percent of infections were on Android devices, 15 percent on Windows devices, and four percent on iPhones and other mobile devices.

The Nokia report joins a growing body of evidence that mobile malware is on the rise.

Google’s Android Security 2016 Year in Review found that Android device infections reached 0.64 percent in the first quarter of 2016 and 0.77 percent in the second quarter — a growth of 0.77 percent. From there, the infection rate moved to 0.67 percent in the third quarter and 0.71 percent in the fourth quarter.

Google said that since 2014, infections on Android have been less than one percent, and it noted that users were 10 times more likely to download malware from outside Google Play than inside its store in 2016.

According to Kaspersky Labs, the number of malicious installations nearly tripled compared to 2015. About 40 million attacks were attempted by mobile malware, and mobile advertising Trojans — viruses capable of aggressively displaying ads on infected devices and secretly installing other applications — were largely responsible, accounting for 16 of the top 20 malicious apps.

Mobile ransomware trojans — apps that disable device with demand messages — were among the most aggressive. More than 153,000 unique users were targeted last year, an increase of 1.6 times compared to 2015. And Kaspersky Labs detected over 260,000 unique varieties over the course of its investigation.  

The takeaway? Exercise common sense when installing an unfamiliar app and consider one of the many third-party security suites available across mobile devices.