The mobile operating system most likely to get infected with malware

44% of users who were infected were using old versions of the Android OS , known as 'Gingerbread'.All phones, like all computers, are at risk of being infected with malicious software, if you’re not careful. But if you want a phone that is less likely to contract malware, newly published information from the Department of Homeland Security suggests you might want to think carefully about your Android device.

According to the memo, 79% of malicious attacks on mobile phones in 2012 occurred on Google’s Android operating system. Nokia’s Symbian software had the second-most attacks, the BBC reports, while Apple’s iOS had only 0.7% of all attacks.

But that information should be taken with a pretty big grain of salt. Before you stop yourself from buying a new Android device, consider this: 44% of users who were infected were using old versions of the operating system, specifically 2.3.3 to 2.3.7 (code named ‘Gingerbread’). This operating system is over two years old; Google has since released newer operating systems with safeguards against certain known malware.

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Meanwhile, Apple has said that of the 600 million iPhone and iPads sold, 93% of them are running the most up-to-date operating system, iOS 6. Having the latest software will help protect you from known attacks, so it’s always a good practice to make sure you’re using the latest version.

As for other ways Android devices became infected, about half were attributed to “text Trojans,” or fake messages with links that trick users into clicking them. Fake sites that masquerade as the Google Play store are another way those with malicious intent can implant software on a user’s phone, allowing the hacker to track keystrokes and passwords, making all sites you visit on your phone vulnerable to hacking.

If you use common sense by only visiting sites that you recognize, opening links from people you know, and keeping your operating system up-to-date, you’ll be much less likely to get hit by a hacking attack.

UPDATE (08/29): Many of our readers expressed concern that Blackberry was not included on this list. According to the official memo from DHS, Blackberry devices made up 0.3% of these kind of attacks in 2012, the same amount as Windows Mobile.

 

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