Nokia no longer makes mobile devices but it's carving out a new business in mobile and Internet of Things security. Now new research from the unit is reporting a 83 percent rise in monthly smartphone infections in the second half of 2016.
Two years ago Verizon challenged assumptions about the spread of mobile malware, reporting that just 0.03 percent of smartphones on its network were infected with 'higher-grade' malware. It was much lower than the 0.68 percent infection rate estimated in Kindsight Security Labs' biannual report.
But a new report from Nokia, based on data from mobile networks that have deployed its NetGuard Endpoint Security, suggests infections are actually far higher.
According to Nokia, the monthly rate of infections in mobile networks peaked at 1.35 percent in October, and averaged 1.08 percent in the second half of 2016. The average infection rate in the first half was 0.66 percent, translating to a 63 percent rise between the periods.
It also measured monthly infections on smartphones and says the average rate was 0.9 percent in the second half, up 83 percent from 0.49 percent in the first half.
Over the entire year, it says smartphone infections rose a whopping 400 percent.
Nokia's data included around 100 million devices across Europe, North America, Asia Pacific and the Middle East. It says that 81 percent of infections were on Android devices, 15 percent on Windows devices, and four percent on iPhones and other mobile devices. It notes that Windows share of infections it counted shrank from 22 percent in the first half of 2016.
Although Nokia's report doesn't exclusively deal with Android, it offers a contrast to Google's assessment of malware infections in its Android Security 2016 Year in Review report, released earlier this month.
Google reported Android device infections at 0.64 percent in the first quarter of 2016 growing to 0.77 percent in the second quarter, and then moving to 0.67 percent and 0.71 percent in the third and fourth quarters, respectively.
Google's measure is based on the frequency it finds PHAs or potentially harmful applications during a "routine full-device scan" with its Verify Apps Android anti-malware service.
Google said since 2014 infections on Android have been less than one percent. It also noted that users were 10 times more likely to download malware from outside Google Play than inside its store in 2016.
While Nokia reports that infections on mobile networks are increasing, infections on fixed-line residential networks have been falling since the beginning of 2015, despite a bump in early 2016 due to a surge in adware.