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China leapfrogs the US in mobile phone shipments

China outsold the U.S. in smartphones in the second half of last year, helped by carrier subsidies and the proliferation of the sub-$200 Android segment. The growing Chinese demand for smartphones, while a good sign for handset makers, also bodes well for Chinese telecom companies such as China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom.

However, such a massive target is bound to attract the attention of the bad guys writing malware - and analysts are warning of a new kind of massively coordinated attack in which infected devices coorperate, such as launching DDOS attacks on demand. With a smaller pool of compromised devices, these would prove ineffective, but users are now being warned of the effects these kinds of attacks could have when given the huge numbers involved.

Scaled up virus attacks

China is likely to become the biggest market for mobile devices running Android and Apple Inc's iOS operating systems by March next year, overtaking the United States, predicted Flurry Analytics, a global mobile application analysis organization.

The country's Internet giants, including Baidu Inc and Tencent Holdings Ltd, said earlier this year that they will "actively" work with Internet security developers to provide better services to customers.

The modern Chinese approach to innovation, as Willy Lam of the Jamestown Foundation sees it, is “reminiscent of the Soviet Union.”

Experts point to the ‘MMarketPay.A’ mobile virus, which hit China in July 2012. Identified by mobile security company TrustGo, the malware can order content from China Mobile’s app store, and TrustGo found evidence that it has already infected content in the following third party app stores: nDuoa, GFan, AppChina, LIQU, ANFONE, Soft.3g.cn, TalkPhone, 159.com and AZ4SD.

MMarketPlay.A didn't make it to Google Play, but the nature of China’s app ecosystem — which has hundreds of app stores that are popular with Android owners — is such that the virus has already become a significant threat simply by appearing in a large number of stores, and devices. The fact that the stores are all located in China makes the chances of it spreading out of the country unlikely, but — with Android accounting for some 55 percent of all smartphones in China — it highlights the security pitfalls of the fragmented Android app space in China.