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Australia worst in the world for mobile app threats

By Shannon Williams
Fri 17 Jun 2022

Australia is the country with the highest percentage of mobile app threats detected, according to new research.

Endpoint-to-cloud security provider Lookout has released the latest results of its Lookout App Threats Map, a threat intelligence index based on analysis of more than 160 million applications across the globe. 
 
The latest data reveal that, globally, Australians are the population most exposed to mobile app threats on a per-device basis, and iPhone users are significantly more likely to download a risky application than an Android user.

“Australians may have become complacent when it comes to downloading applications to their phones, at a time when risks are higher than ever,” says Don Tan, Senior director of Asia Pacific and Japan, Lookout. 

“Across the nation they’ve been using their phones to check in, order food and more – this common usage of phones has perhaps bred a complacency about the applications they’re downloading. But they need to become more vigilant than ever.”

The Lookout App Threats Map is derived from anonymous telemetry data extracted from the Lookout Security Graph. The Security Graph analyses telemetry data from more than 200 million devices and 160 million apps, ingesting and analysing more than four million URLs every day. By leveraging artificial intelligence, Lookout protects customers against phishing, app, device and network threats in a manner that respects user privacy. The use of machine learning on data enables Lookout MES to automatically detect threats before they’ve been seen.     

Lookout Mobile Endpoint Security creates a fingerprint of each mobile device and compares this with data from more than 185 countries to continuously monitor and protect against mobile risks. The map’s current data covers the period from February 2021 to March 2022.

“Crimes targeting smartphone users can seem low-risk and invisible until we see Australia on a map, coloured in red, with the highest number of application threats compared to its global counterparts. That’s when it starts to become very real,” says Tan.

“People across Australia need to become more vigilant when downloading applications, or this number will rise and their financial details and other personal information will continue falling into the hands of criminals," he says.

“It’s important for people to check the links attached to anything they download, as well as the download count and customer reviews on the app store.”

More mobile app threats detected on iOS than Android devices

Further to Australia having the highest rate of mobile app threats in the world, the Lookout App Threats Map revealed the vast majority of these threats have come from iOS (30.1%) rather than Android (1.2%) devices.

Tan says this indicates a degree of security complacency that exists within the community of iOS users.

“Apple does an outstanding job with mobile security, and because of this strong reputation its users can often be lax with their own security practices,” he says. 

“It’s dangerous to operate under the assumption that any device you use is completely safe, regardless of the manufacturer, and people need to apply the same security precautions to every device they use.”

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