PETALING JAYA - When it comes to the number of hacking attacks on smartphones and tablets, Malaysia ranks ninth on a list of 200 countries and territories, a joint study by Interpol and software security firm Kaspersky Lab has found.
Also, the country ranks sixth globally in terms of the number of "Trojan-SMS" attacks, according to the Mobile Cyberthreats report issued this month.
Trojan-SMS attacks are the most common form of malicious software (malware) that cyber criminals use to steal money and personal data.
It pretends to be a useful free application and infects a smartphone when installed.
It then sends costly SMSes to premium rate online services without the user's knowledge.
In Malaysia, 44,726 Trojan-SMS attacks were detected, according to the study that tracked more than five million Kaspersky users in the various countries and territories from Aug 1 last year to July 31.
Russia is in top spot with the highest number of users attacked by mobile malware. It was hit with 1.25 million Trojan-SMS attacks in that period, the study found.
Countries with the next highest attacks were India, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Ukraine, Germany, Britain and Spain.
The report said that most of the attacks targeted the Android operating system, with 59 per cent of malware detections related to programs capable of hijacking the devices to steal money.
"It is easy to understand why cyber criminals create so many malicious programs targeting Android devices: these days, smartphones are increasingly used as a tool to pay online for merchandise and services," said the report.
There are more than 30 million mobile phones in the country with Malaysians sending 14.1 billion SMSes in the first quarter of this year alone, according to data from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission.
"SMS-based fraud is a long-standing trend in Russia, its neighbouring countries, several Western European nations, as well as Malaysia and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region," said Roman Unuchek, a mobile threats expert at Kaspersky Lab.
Apart from stealing money from users, mobile malware can allow an attacker to gain access to personal data such as a user's cloud storage account and associated e-mail identifiers.
"This information can in turn be used to access personal content in cloud-based storage without the user's knowledge or permission," the report said.
The report can be accessed at http://bit.ly/ZWOUPX.