Mobile Malware: The new battleground for Cyber Attacks

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Hackers are now focusing their cyber-attacks on mobile phones and with more than half the global population owning a smartphone mobile; cyber-attacks will continue to rise.

Mobile data theft is on the increase because we are moving more to a cashless society. Most countries have adopted various mobile-based transactions, and this poses a security risk when it comes to sending personal data.

According to a report by global anti-virus giant Kaspersky, their software detected more than 3.5 million pieces of malware in 2014.

Some areas you need to look out for when it comes to mobile cyber-attacks.

Data Leakage

The risk for data leakages rests with what information you share with other apps. The problem lies in not all the free apps that you download use the data sent for marketing purposes. Some pose a serious security risk, and that is why you should be careful which apps you give permissions to. You can protect your private network from leakages through VPN. If you do not know what this is you can check this beginner’s guide to vpns.

Wi-Fi Interference

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Wi-Fi connections are the newest ways through which people access the internet on their mobile phones. Today it is not unusual to find café and airports filled with internet hotspots. Public networks are not as secure as they look. The main point of attack is the man-in-middle. This is where the hacker intercepts data been sent and received by the parties. Getting a VPN helps close some of the doors that are open to hackers. While using Wi-Fi is cheaper than cellular data avoid using it for sending sensitive information like credit card details.

PIN Breaches

This while a minor security risk can be catastrophic if the user has sensitive information on their phone. Physical device breaches will occur when the user has not created strong passwords, or their phone lacks encryption software. Most people do not consider the security risk they expose their personal data to when they ignore strong passwords or the use of biometrics.

Phishing attacks

You can susceptible to phishing attacks if you use your phone to check emails. You may receive an email with an attachment, and once you click on the file, a malware is installed on your computer. The only way to avoid phishing attacks is to be careful when opening files with attachments or macros. An antivirus will warn you before you do this.

Malicious Apps

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There are thousands of Apps available for download on Google App store or App store. Some are legitimate and are safe for download but there various malicious Apps available online for download. Apps will often ask you for a list of permissions before you can download them. Permissions may relate to allowing the app to access locations, messages, or folders and files. Most people being in a hurry to download the Apps and grant all permissions without carefully studying the consequences of their actions. The result is malicious apps get control of your data.

Lack of Encryption software

Encryption software helps keep the data that you send and receive safe from hackers. While a lot of money is spent developing apps very little is done to keep the apps safe. What you do not know is that you can have a middleman when you send or receive data, and they can intercept what is shared amongst the company’s employees. You can have end-to-end encryption with the help of a service provider.

Session Handling

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Most of the Apps send data frequently through a system called tokens. Here the app does not need to go through an authentication process when data is transmitted. The problem is when the authentication is still open hackers can gain access to your data because no passwords are required for the session. They impersonate the phone. To prevent this, your apps should generate new tokens with each session.

Spyware

While malware are malicious and can cause users to lose sensitive data, there is a new threat that is emerging that might appear innocent but can cause harm to your phone. Spouses, parents, and employers nowadays install spyware to unsuspecting target members. The reasons for installing spyware is to track your movements, calls, web searches and messages. Spyware operates in the background, and you may not be aware that someone is monitoring your movements. You can control spyware by installing an excellent mobile anti-virus. The anti-virus will flash out any spyware in your phone before they start sending private data to third parties.

Network Spoofing

Most of the times you step into a public area like airport, library, hotel or café you will notice that your smartphone has detected some free “Wi-Fi spots.” The problem is that not all open networks are secure; some are used by hackers to gain access to your personal information. You may be asked to register a new account to access the free Wi-Fi; registration may include entering your name, email, location, phone number and password. The hackers will then use these information to carry out cyber-attacks. Be careful when connecting to open networks and avoid giving personal information. If you are not sure about the security of a network use your cellular data.

Botnets

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It is difficult to control the Apps your employees choose to download. A botnet occurs where users in a network download the same apps having malware. Once the apps have been downloaded the hackers will send spammy emails or encourage the users to download other apps with malware. This causes the malware to spread further in the organization. They can also control all the devices remotely on the botnet. One way to prevent the spread of botnets is to have a VPN in your organization.

Conclusion

Today most people do their transactions on their mobile phones. This has created opportunities for hackers to send malicious apps to acquire personal data. Users are advised to install a mobile anti-virus on their phones, be careful when giving permissions to apps during the download process and checking the security of any open Wi-Fi access ports.

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About the Author: Todd R. Brain

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