The modern world gives users more ways than ever to stay online and in touch – and people are rushing to take advantage. However, while Kaspersky Lab figures show that more and more families are using several different Internet-ready devices, cyber-criminals are also ready to take advantage of new ways to exploit their victims.
Gadget nation
Kaspersky Lab’s global survey revealed that the average South African family (connected to the Internet) has four personal electronic devices with Internet access, capable of storing large amounts of data. The most gadget-happy nation is Saudi Arabia, with 4,3-devices per household, while Romanians have the fewest hi-tech toys, at 2,6 devices per household.
The smartphone device is the most popular type of personal electronic device in South Africa. Almost 42% of Internet users surveyed say they had two or more at home, while 27,1% of the respondents stated that they had two or more desktop PCs.
Laptops are just as prominent as ever thanks to their combination of high performance and mobility – 31,1% of highly connected Internet users say they have two or more laptops at home.
When it came to the latest devices such as tablets, it was revealed that 11,7% of this category of respondents already have a tablet. Additionally, 2,6% of highly connected South Africans are already the proud owners of a full set of modern electronic devices (desktop PC, laptop, smartphone and tablet).
Under threat
This love of gadgets offers a wealth of opportunities to cyber-criminals. Every day users make online purchases, chat on social networks, check their e-mail accounts and browse the Internet. All this can be done just as effectively on a smartphone or a tablet running various operating systems as it can on a desktop or laptop computer.
In 2011, the experts at Kaspersky Lab observed a dramatic growth in the amount of malware for the majority of platforms. The domination of Windows on users’ PCs is reflected in its popularity among virus writers – malware for the operating system increased 80% last year. Malicious programs for Mac OS also demonstrated significant growth of 35%.
When it came to mobile operating systems, four platforms bore the brunt of the biggest increases in malware. There was a rise of 13% for Windows Mobile, and Symbian saw a rise of 16%. Java2ME continues to be a favourite target of the virus writers as it is used on the majority of basic phones. The amount of malware for this platform rose by 160%.
But it is Android that has the unenviable distinction of being targeted most by the virus writers. At the beginning of 2011 there were a couple of dozen threats targeting the platform; by the end of the year that number had reached the 2 000 mark. The overall increase in malware targeting Android for the year came to almost 12 000%.
“Regardless of the type of device or operating system, users need to be sure that all their gadgets are protected. With such a variety of devices and platforms, comprehensive protection is only possible with the help of universal solutions that have already become a major new trend in IT security for end users,” explains Alexander Erofeev, head of strategic marketing and brand communication at Kaspersky Lab.
“When you have several devices, purchasing an integrated solution makes more sense economically than protecting each device separately, and it makes installation much easier. Kaspersky one is just the sort of flexible solution that can protect your PCs, laptops, Macs, smartphones and tablets.”