If you’ve seen the kind of smartphones they’re using in Russia, you’d be excused for thinking they’re in pretty much the same boat as North Americans as far as cyber-security goes. They have most of the same Android devices, as well as an abundance of iPhones. According to a report from mobile security researchers Lookout, however, they’ve also got over forty times more malware infections than their American counterparts.
AllThingsD reports that while less than one percent of American smartphone owners have some form of malware on their phone, about 40% of Russian smartphones are infected. The most ubiquitous type of malware in Russia is something called a “toll fraud,” which sign your phone up for premium services, such as expensive text messaging services, without telling you. Last year, this sort of thing made up 79% of all malware found in the wild.
One major reason for the huge rise in malware infections in Russia is a malware-based pyramid scheme called FakeInst, which allows nefarious individuals to spread the malware themselves, in exchange for a cut of the profits. Lookout says that several million dollars has been stolen in this manner, from Russians and other Eastern Europeans.
Presumably the stricter cybercrime laws in the United States are deterring such pyramid schemes from gaining as much of a foothold as they have in Russia. It’s also possible that Americans stick to the official Play Store apps more than people in Russia, where piracy and bootlegging runs far more rampant.