Pudong Shanghai China
Mobile malware is on the rise, and 16 million devices are currently estimated to be infected right now in the world (Reuters)

An epic 16 million mobile devices now in circulation in the world are currently infected by some sort of malware - almost 1% of all mobile devices.

A new report released by the security arm of telecoms infrastructure firm Alcatel-Lucent shows that there has been a 25% increase in malware attacks on mobile devices since 2013.

2014 was truly the year of cyberattacks, with huge numbers of big corporations and retail chains being hacked and millions of credit and debit card details stolen, but Alcatel-Lucent says that all of this still paled against the number of malware attacks that were perpetrated on mobile devices.

You know how Windows PCs are considered to be the primary targets and backbone of cybercrime?

Well in mobile networks, it probably won't surprise you to learn that Android devices are where all the malware is headed, with malware only affecting less than 1% of other smartphones like iPhones, Windows Phones or Blackberrys.

Increase in mobile spyware apps

There is also an increase in mobile spyware apps infecting mobile devices – of the top 20 malware discovered to be infecting the world's devices, Alcatel-Lucent found that at least six were spyware.

Spyware is used to track everything about a smartphone's owner. These apps can monitor ingoing and outgoing calls and text messages, monitor email and track the victim's web browsing, as well as the location of the owner's phone.

The firm found that the 50% of all malware infections were observed in Android phones and tablets, due to the fact that there is no control of the digital certificates used to sign Android apps.

Since Android apps are usually self-signed and can't be traced to the developer, it's easy to hijack Android apps, inject code into them and then re-sign them.

Ransomware and web proxy apps on the rise

Alcatel-Lucent also found that mobile malware similar to various types of traditional Windows PC malware were now appearing on devices, such as ransomware apps that pretended to extort money by claiming to have encrypted the phone's data.

Also detected were web proxy apps that allow hackers to anonymously browse the web at the device owner's expense once the device was infected.

"By the end of 2015, the number of smartphone users worldwide will surpass 2 billion, representing more than a quarter of the global population. There's no reason to believe malware threats won't be even more intrusive this year and the foreseeable future," said Kevin McNamee, Director of Alcatel-Lucent Motive Security Labs.

"If malware is the foil, service providers have an opportunity to play the hero. A Motive Security Labs survey found that 65% of subscribers expect their service provider to protect both their mobile and home devices. Fifty-five percent indicated they would be willing to pay for such a service.

"Service providers have a vested interest in ensuring malware doesn't invade their network or sour the subscriber service experience."