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Malware afflicts 1.5% of Symbian handsets

According to a malware removal company, at least

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A survey carried out by SMobile, creators of mobile-security software, reports that 1 in 63 Symbian handsets is infected with some sort of malware - though things might not be quite as bad as they seem.

The survey sampled 1958 Symbian devices in India and Europe, and discovered that 1.6 per cent of them were infected with either FlexiSpy, Flocker, Beselo or Boxer malware, infections that the company's software was able to remove.

That rate of infections seemed very high to us: we didn't think 1.6 per cent of Symbian users were up to downloading software, let alone downloading enough for a Trojan to slip through, even if it was signed by Symbian*. Worms - infections that jump from phone to phone - are still in the realm of science fiction and Daily Mail headlines for the moment, which begs the question of how so many devices got infected.

In fact, Boxer doesn't appear to exist**, and Flocker only infects handsets with Python installed (not your average punter then). FlexiSpy is a manually-installed spying application which isn't (strictly speaking) malware. That leaves just just Beselo as a genuine infection that could be concerning to users.

Smobile also told us that the 1958 devices sampled had all downloaded its Security Shield software, presumably because the user noticed strange behaviour or was otherwise suspicious. We don't know how many of the 31 or so "infected" devices simply had FlexiSpy installed on them by a jealous partner or business competitor, but we'd bet it was a decent proportion.

So if there are 63 of you out there with a Symbian device, then the most dangerous infection one of you is going to be carrying is probably swine flu, something SMobile can't help with. The day of scary mobile malware is coming, but it's not here just yet. ®

* As it happens SMobile didn't record a single instance of SexyView, the Trojan erroneously signed by Symbian.

** Turns out it does exist, but it's a Java Trojan that has to be manually installed and then asks permission before sending nefarious text messages, so not exactly end-of-civilisation stuff.

SANS - Survey on application security programs

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