16 million mobiles spy and steal from owners

16 million mobile phones are spying on their owners and stealing data after being infected with malware, according to the telecoms firm Alcatel-Lucent.

A report by the company found mobile infections were up 25% from 2013, and revealed that Android and Windows phones were the "biggest offenders" in terms of compromised phones, each accounting for roughly half of them.

Patrick Tan, GM of network intelligence at Alcatel-Lucent, said: "With malware attacks on devices steadily rising with consumer ultra-broadband usage, the impact on customer experience becomes a primary concern for service providers.

"As a result, we’re seeing more operators take a proactive approach to this problem by providing services that alert subscribers to malware on their devices along with self-help instructions for removing it."

The firm noted a pronounced rise in the use of mobile spyware to listen to people’s conversations and track their movements, with six out of twenty top mobile threats found to be in this category.

Other common threats include many trojan viruses, "scareware" which tries to trick users into installing phoney antivirus programs, and adware which uses advertising to make money for the authors.

However the company added that its estimates were "likely on the conservative side because our sensors do not have complete coverage in areas such as China and Russia, where mobile infection rates are known to be higher than average".

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