08Jun 2020

All About Cyber-Attacks on Mobile Devices and How to Protect Against Them?

Mobile devices, particularly smartphones that have features similar to computers are carried everywhere in purses, pockets, or cars. Besides their popularity, these devices are characterized by security laxity making them soft sports for cyber-attackers.

Today, criminals are targeting the smartphone industry to commit credential theft, malicious advertisement, and surveillance purposes. Over a very short time, the number of cyber-attacks targeting mobile devices has escalated, perhaps due to the increased use of mobile banking technology.

Cybercriminals are busy tracking your money and spreading malicious content meant to steal your financial information, the login details, and even money from your bank account.

Mobile devices have digital capabilities such as accessing the web, GPS, email, online banking, et al. Nevertheless, these devices are lagging behind the conventional security systems. They lack technical security features like firewalls, antimalware and encryption capabilities.

Moreover, the majority of these devices do not have updatable operating systems (OS) as in PCs. Often, applications for social networking on mobile devices have insufficient privacy control compared to when accessing them from a computer.

The majority of people using smartphones are either unaware or reluctant about security faults. Some users even think accessing their social networking accounts on their smartphones is much safer than when accessing them with computers.

Criminals have developed new forms of android malware with advanced evasion tactics that reduce their chances of being detected.

For instance, Anubis Banking Trojan is a type of malware that only starts functioning when motion sensors diagnose that the mobile device has changed its position, which is the strategy used by cyber-attackers to avoid detection.

Meanwhile, different malware types are popular for their ability to switch off Google Protect security features of android devices in order to steal financial details from users.

Triada is one form of such malware which is regarded as one among the naughtiest types of malware. It can allow criminals access to your smartphone and take control of it.

Most interestingly, Triada has been found already integrated into some low-end mobile devices as pre-installed software.

Lotoor and Hiddad are the two other forms of android malware. Lotoor operates like a hacking tool by exploiting the vulnerabilities in smartphones to infiltrate into their operating systems. Hiddad is a form of malware that repackages licit android software to distribute them to third parties and in return bombard the user with irrelevant and malicious adverts.

Research shows that as people are increasingly shifting from using conventional devices (laptops, PC) to mobile devices for accessing the internet, attackers are increasing their efforts to target more users.

These devices have vast amounts of personal information and due to their security weakness, information can easily be stolen and used to commit fraudulent acts.

Today, mobile devices, smartphones, in particular, are goldmines for cyber-attackers.

Across the globe, people are always busy on their smartphone watching the latest movie episodes, take photos and uploading them on the Instagram, following world news about the escalating tensions between the united states and Iran on Twitter, communicating with friends and families overseas, conducting point-of-sale transactions, redeeming coupons, or to purchase their favorable smart TV through their mobile devices.

Smartphones are custodians of valuable and sensitive information like email addresses, contact lists, passwords, curriculum vitae, banking information, copies of driver’s licenses, identity cards, et al. which turns to be a big harvest when attackers infiltrate into these devices.

These devices possess the same vulnerabilities that computers have, but due to the fact they are easily portable, usable, and modifiable opens them to uncountable opportunities of attacks:

  • Perhaps the simplest; they’re easy to carry feature is followed by easy to steal “characteristic”. When your smartphone is stolen from you, all the information stored in this device will be lost, from your identification details to financial and occupation information. Worse, an attacker with vast expertise can crack all the security features of this device and access all the information stored in it.
  • Some seemingly licit apps are infected with malware. Attackers can develop software apps for any mobile OS and service providers might provide third-party software without evaluating their safety. Also, sources without any connection to service providers could offer malicious software with the capability to access locked devices. Some smartphone users are known for “rooting” these devices by bypassing the OS lockout capabilities and installing such applications.
  • Even the licit smartphone apps can be malicious. Applications or apps for mobile devices have vulnerabilities. For some time, hackers have been exploiting mobile device apps to spy, crash the apps, or commit other fraudulent acts. The attack can be triggered by the users themselves unknowingly through some obvious actions like clicking on a link that was maliciously designed to spy on their browser. In other cases, mobile device users are exposed to passive attacks where their devices are infected with malicious software operating in the background.
  • Phishing attacks are frequent in mobile devices where users are lured into clicking and installing malware-infected apps into their devices or disclosing sensitive information. Smartphone users can be tricked through “vishing” and “smishing” which are phishing voice calls and phishing SMS messages respectively. Victims are tricked to receive fraudulent charges or pay money to purported charitable organizations.
  • Information leakage: smartphone users grant any sort of permission to applications on their phones without first considering their security. The information fed to these apps can then be sent to another person to commit fraud.
  • Malicious wireless fidelity or Wi-Fi: unsecured Wi-Fi can be an entry to intrusions into your phone. Attackers can steal sensitive information from mobile devices accessing unsecured public networks.
  • Network spoofing: it is a user-triggered form of mobile vulnerability. Attackers set up malicious access points with the resemblance of Wi-Fi networks that are traps for smartphone users addicted to public networks. When creating an account to gain access to this free Wi-Fi, a user would probably use sign up details they have used on other accounts. Hackers might use the data to access personal accounts they have registered with this information.

Protection Against Mobile Cyber-Attacks

Protection Against Mobile Cyber-Attacks

The smartphone industry is talking over the formerly PC-commanded internet industry.

Today, Apple Inc. is the largest and most profitable technology company in the world, the only reason being that it produces smartphones.

Samsung Corporation is Korea’s source of pride as its smartphones are competing with iPhones for market share in the international digital industry.

Also, look at the way China is almost commanding the smartphone industry with a handful of smartphone production companies such as Huawei, Oppo, Lenovo, Xiaomi, Vivo, et al.

Despite the massive growth in the global smartphone industry, security measures for these devices are not in phase with their capabilities. It implies that the security of the majority of these devices relies on users to make cautious and clever choices.

Chances are even users who are most mindful of their interactions with these devices fall victim to cyber-attacks.

Nevertheless, users can follow some best practices regarding the security of their gadgets to minimize their chances of being duped.

Consider security features when purchasing a mobile device: always enquire whether the device supports file encryption, whether the device can be tracked and wiped remotely by a service provider, or whether the device has authentication capabilities like access passwords.

The device should support backing up of its content to a PC and give an option for encryption of the backed up data.

  • Security configuration: many mobile devices come with a password capability that locks them until the user enters the correct Personal Identification Number (PIN) or password. By enabling this feature and choosing a passably complex password, enabling encryption, enabling the remote wipe (delete) features, and antimalware apps, the devices are considered to be secure.
  • Enable secure web connection configurations for online accounts: smartphone users can configure some web accounts – like email accounts and social network accounts – to accept only secure connections. By enabling this capability, hackers attempting to spy on their web activities are deterred.
  • Ignore email messages and text messages from suspicious sources: this prevents users from falling victims of phishing.
  • Limit sharing of personal contacts: be cautious anytime you are requested for personal contacts on public websites. Criminals can use these contacts to launch attacks using your information.
  • Carefully scrutinize the sort of content stored on the mobile device: recall that with time, attackers could use sophisticated ways to gain access to your device.
  • Being selective before installing software: before installing any software onto the device, conduct some research to understand the sort of permissions it requires. if you suspect the app, ignore it altogether.
  • Maintaining good physical control of the mobile device: to avoid theft or getting lost, especially when traveling in a public van.
  • Disabling interfaces like Bluetooth connection or Wi-Fi when not in use: hackers can infiltrate into the devices using such interfaces.
  • Keep off unknown Wi-Fi access points: hackers have a way of creating phony Wi-Fi access points to steal personal information from unsecured mobile devices. Also, home Wi-Fi networks must be encrypted to keep unwanted persons away.
  • Wipe off data: before discarding or donating a mobile device, wipe all the information since the next owner of this exact device might use the information for fraudulent activities.  
  • Avoid “rooting” mobile devices: The third-party firmware may contain virus-infected code subjecting the device to security vulnerabilities. Alternatively, the firmware may halt software updates that often come with security updates.

Conclusion

Several tips can help safeguard the information on mobile devices.

First, if the device gets lost or stolen, the loss should be reported to the relevant authorities.

Second, after finding that some information was lost in the device without your knowledge, notify the service provider.

Third, if you use home Wi-Fi, often change the password, and lastly, remember to wipe the information on your mobile device before discarding it.

Acodez IT Solutions is a web design and web development company in India offering all kinds of web design and development services at affordable prices. We are also a renowned Digital Marketing Agency providing services like SEO, SEM, SMM, PPC, etc. and all other kinds of digital marketing services. For further information, please contact us today.

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Rithesh Raghavan

Rithesh Raghavan

Rithesh Raghavan, Co-Founder, and Director at Acodez IT Solutions, who has a rich experience of 16+ years in IT & Digital Marketing. Between his busy schedule, whenever he finds the time he writes up his thoughts on the latest trends and developments in the world of IT and software development. All thanks to his master brain behind the gleaming success of Acodez.

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