While the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has confirmed the major growth in smartphone and tablet usage in Australia, what is not evident in its report are the shifts in the security threat landscape for Internet usage, Blue Coat Systems Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ) systems engineering manager, Andrew Cook, said.

In its Communications Report, launched yesterday, ACMA recorded a 104 per cent upswing in smartphone and tablet usage between June 2011 and June 2012, with 50 per cent of all adults in the country said to have an Internet-enabled smartphone.

Read our Blue Coat said the research mirrors the explosive growth in smartphones and tablets being seen within organisations through the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend, but does not indicate the changed security landscape that has been triggered as a result. According to Blue Coat's own 2012 Mobile Malware Report, cybercriminals are "shifting their gaze from desktops to mobile as a highly lucrative, expanding, and uncontrolled new opportunity for theft and fraud," Cook said.

"Classic security attacks that have dominated traditional PCs for many years, such as spam, phishing, and malware are being increasing detected on mobile devices."

"Blue Coat's data shows there has been a 600 per cent increase in malware designed for Android smartphones during the end of 2012. Forty per cent of all mobile malware blocked by Blue Coat's security solutions has originated from knock 'malnets' -- diverse malware networks used to launch highly dynamic malware threats and increasingly malicious mobile applications."

Cook said while the growth in uptake is interesting within the context of device numbers, 4G services, and increased Internet usage, the underlying security implications are profound and acute.

Other key findings in Blue Coat's report include:

  • Mobile threats are still largely mischiefware; they have not broken the device's security model, but as focused on for-pay texting scams or stealing personal information.
  • The most successful mobile malware tactics are those that dominated the threat landscape when malware first moved to the Web. This includes scams, spam, and phishing.
  • Pornography is proving to be the great weakness for mobile users.
  • The mobile threat landscape is becoming active.
  • Extending security to mobile devices will be essential for businesses that need to protect their assets and employees. Cybercriminals see the value in these targets as businesses need to be prepared in 2013.