Russia and China: The Most Dangerous Countries for Smartphone Attacks

Photographer: Smertin Pavel/ITAR-TASS Photo via Corbis

Smartphones in use at a Moscow metro station on Oct. 19, 2013. Russia and China are the top two countries where smartphone users are most likely to encounter attacks. Close

Smartphones in use at a Moscow metro station on Oct. 19, 2013. Russia and China are the... Read More

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Photographer: Smertin Pavel/ITAR-TASS Photo via Corbis

Smartphones in use at a Moscow metro station on Oct. 19, 2013. Russia and China are the top two countries where smartphone users are most likely to encounter attacks.

In news accounts of the cyber-attacks plaguing computer networks in the U.S., the bad actors are almost always the same - faceless adversaries hailing from shadowy regions of Asia and Eastern Europe.

But what if the issue was examined from the other direction, from the perspective of people living in countries identified as launching pads for the world's hacking attacks?

New research by security firm Lookout shows that when it comes to cyber-threats, countries reap what countries sow.

The Lookout report shows that Russia and China aren't just the source of sophisticated attacks on infrastructure abroad - they are also the top two countries where smartphone users are most likely to encounter attacks and harmful programs targeting their mobile devices. France, the U.K., the U.S. and Germany came next on the list.

The report defined mobile threats as including outright malicious software - such as applications that steal personal information - along with programs that operate in more of a gray zone, such as bombarding users with an endless stream of advertisements.

The findings show that lax policing of hacking attacks has allowed criminal enterprises in Russia and China to more easily launch outbound attacks and target citizens, said Marc Rogers, principal security researcher at Lookout.

"In these countries, malware is much more prevalent, exposing their citizens to financial fraud, privacy violations and disruptive user experiences via the malicious software that plagues alternative app stores," Rogers wrote in an e-mail. "With limited access to legitimate app stores and loose regulations on premium SMS billing and privacy standards, citizens are more exposed."

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