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Tencent 2016 mobile safety report: viruses hit over 200 million users, 6 times the 2013 record

Tencent on Friday published a landmark report on mobile security in China. The report covers data for the first half of 2016, and shows various aspects of the realities of mobile threats in China: this includes the types of mobile threats and their vulnerable target groups. The analysis was done by Tencent’s researching arm, Penguin Intelligence, and its Mobile Security Manager app.

There are three major types of mobile threats: mobile viruses, spam text messages, and spam calls.

Mobile viruses

Data shows that victims of mobile viruses grew to nearly 201 million in the first half of 2016, about six times that of the first half of 2013. In addition, while the Mobile Security Manager recorded over 66 million scans for viruses in the first of 2013, the number for 2016 was almost 309 million.

Picture edited from Tencent Tech

The volume of mobile viruses are also increasing at a speed of millions of viruses per month. In fact, the first six months of 2016 witnessed the birth of another 9.18 million types of virus.

Among all types of viruses, online payment viruses doubled their population from 2015 to 2016, infecting over two million users every month. In fact, 82.8% of the viruses relate to mobile payment transactions, and they are well disguised – users would be unaware of their infection unless they search specifically.

It is worth mentioning that while 61.8% of iOS users have trust in their mobile phone safety, the percentage for Android system users is 43.9%. Even Android users believe that iOS is safer. In fact, while 23.9% iOS users were once attacked by mobile threats, the percentage for Android users is 37.2%.

Spam messages

In terms of spam messages, the number increased almost 50% from 2014 to 2016, and this June alone had nearly 77 million victims.

Picture edited from Tencent Tech

Data shows that 84.55% of the spam messages are advertisements, and 11.82% are fraudulent and/or phishing messages.

Big cities tend to see the most reports of phishing messages from users.

Spam calls

Compared with over 679 million spam calls in the first half of 2015, the 2016 number was reduced to fewer than 323 million. However, you can’t say 323 million is a small number.

Picture edited from Tencent Tech

27.37% of the spam calls were fraudulent calls; advertisements accounted to 14.66%, and those from real estate agencies and insurance companies accounted to 7.31% and 0.82% respectively. The rest were just pure crank calls.

Mobile threats do not just threat – they cause losses

According to the report, the top three losses caused by mobile threats are: being tricked and scammed by frauds, unauthorized money transactions, and violation of privacy.

Previous victims of mobile threats believe that mobile viruses are mostly likely to target those who download bundled software, click whatever links in a received message, and download mobile wallpapers or ringtones from unidentified websites.

Among all victims of mobile threats, 48.2% said they once had money losses, ranging from under RMB 10 (USD 1.5) to over RMB 1,000. Users in first-tier cities suffered the heaviest loss.

Another interesting fact to note is that postgraduates are no less immune to mobile threats than graduates. In this respect, it could be said that the risks of becoming a victim of mobile threats may have little to do with one’s education background. The difference in terms of age do not seem to be big either.

(Top photo from Baidu Images)

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