Mobile Malware "Study": Not News
Posted by Craig H on 31 July 2009
SMobile Systems put out a press release this week, with the headline “One in 63 Smartphones Infected by Mobile Spyware and Malware”. Unfortunately this headline is grossly misleading, and it has therefore been the cause of a lot of inaccurate reports.
It’s striking that SMobile Systems have chosen not to publish any of the supporting data from this “study”. I believe this is because, when the actual data is examined, the accurate conclusion is malware or spyware found in only 31 infected smartphones, most of them obsolete, which would, of course, be of no interest to any news media.
SMobile Systems have told me that the 1,958 smartphones examined are all registered with their malware detection service. Any statistician will tell you that to draw conclusions from a small sample, that sample must be randomly selected from the total population, not self-selected. The “one in 63” conclusion is thus completely invalid (obviously someone who does have malware on their phone is far more likely to subscribe to a malware removal service than someone who does not).
I have also been told that the vast majority of the infections they are detecting are Flocker. That can only infect phones with pre-2006 versions of Symbian OS and S60. All MOAP phones, UIQ phones and S60 3rd and 5th edition phones are completely unaffected by it. As we know, there has been malware on older versions of Symbian OS, but that’s precisely why we introduced platform security in 2006, and that’s still doing it’s job very well, thank you.