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Mobile Malware Lies… Sorry, Statistics!

Posted by Craig H on 9 February 2011

McAfee put out a press release this week which has been picked up by many news outlets, leading with two statements that are factually correct but blatantly misleading:

  • “The number of pieces of new mobile malware in 2010 increased by 46 percent compared with 2009”
  • “Of the almost 55 million total pieces of malware McAfee Labs has identified, 36 percent was created in 2010”

That is clearly intended to make people think 46 is bigger than 36, so the bad guys must be concentrating more on mobile malware now, and that’s what most of the news outlets are reporting, but that conclusion is ABSOLUTELY WRONG.

You can either say that mobile malware increased by 46% and overall malware increased by 56% (36/64), or you can say that 32% (46/146) of total mobile malware was written in 2010 and 36% of total overall malware was written in 2010.  Mixing the frames of reference is obvious misdirection, and that’s even before pointing out that total mobile malware, according to their own statistics, is less than 1000, whereas total non-mobile malware is nearly 55 million!

McAfee’s full report is here.

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