Smartphone infections up 400% in 2016; kit maker warns of major IoT vulnerabilities.

The rate at which smartphones became infected with viruses rocketed by 400% in 2016, revealed Nokia on Monday.

According to the kit maker’s latest Threat Intelligence Report, smartphones accounted for 85% of all mobile device infections in the second half of 2016. During this period, the smartphone infection rate increased by 83% to 0.90% versus 0.49% in the first half.

The overall device infection rate rose steadily in 2016, reaching 1.35% in October, compared to 1.06% in April – the highest level since Nokia’s records began.

Android-powered smartphones and tablets are still the hacker’s target of choice, accounting for 81% of malware attacks in the second half. By comparison, other mobile operating systems, including Apple iOS, accounted for just 4%.

However, Nokia is more concerned about vulnerability of IoT devices, highlighting last year’s Mirai botnet episode, which used infected home routers to launch distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

"The security of IoT devices has become a major concern," said Kevin McNamee, head of Nokia’s threat intelligence lab.

"The Mirai botnet attacks last year demonstrated how thousands of unsecured IoT devices could easily be hijacked to launch crippling DDoS attacks. As the number and types of IoT devices continue to proliferate, the risks will only increase," he warned.