The rise of cyber crime over the past decade has made organizations of all types nervous, but there’s another area that shouldn’t be left untouched –mobile security.
Defending against attacks on smartphones and other mobile devices is an important part of network security – and anyone concerned about cyber crime needs to know what’s happening in this space as well.
With so many cyber attacks occurring on desktop computers, mobile hacking can sometimes be pushed to the side. But cyber crime is occurring on all types of devices – and it’s crucial to be aware of the state of play in network security.
According to figures from McAfee, of 150 million apps scanned on major app stores, nine million were classed as malware, nine million were classified as suspicious, while a total of 37 million apps with malware were classified over six months.
Smartphones and tablets are now as vulnerable as desktop computers ever were. How can you protect yourself?
What is the State of Mobile Security?
Smartphone and mobile hacking can take many forms, but they often mirror methods used on desktop computers. For instance, many hackers use SMS phishing to gather personal details about people, or place malware in apps that activates when users download them.
According to a report from Kaspersky, use of many of these simple programs is growing. It notes that “almost all types of malicious programs” have been created and used for platforms such as Android and Linux.
These attacks can be devastating if successful, given the end goal most people have is intimate information such as banking details on their phones.
In 2015, Kaspersky notes, the banking industry was struck by a Trojan known as Dyre, Dyzap, or Dyreza. Designed to hit mobile banking users, Kaspersky says the share of users attacked by Dyreza reached 40 percent.
But mobile attacks go far beyond banking. As recently as September, it was reported the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating the potential hacking of smartphones owned by members of the Democratic National Commission, a sign that mobile hacking is becoming more sophisticated and reaching the political sphere.
The Wall Street Journal also reports malware such as Acecard and GM Bot are gaining popularity as hackers seek to crack phones for banking details. As it also points out, Apple urged users to update their software in August 2016 due to a potential security flaw. Had hackers exploited that flaw, they could have activated the users’ microphones, logged messages, and even tracked their whereabouts.
You can read about more methods cyber criminals use in the article Know The Threat: The Hacker’s Toolkit.
Unfortunately, many users still aren’t waking up to this reality. A study conducted by SAS and Javelin Strategy and Research discovered just one-third of smartphone owners use anti-virus software.
What’s Causing Mobile Cyber Crime to Rise?
One of the reasons hacking attacks are on the rise is the sheer amount of data available to hostile actors. Users have a treasure trove of credit card numbers, banking details, and other personal information that could be used to steal identities.
Hackers are now attacking mobile devices due to the wide range of corporate activity being undertaken on smartphones. When access to a smartphone can mean obtaining confidential, potentially lucrative information, hackers will naturally target them.
The sheer market for smartphone use also makes it an easy target; with 6.1 billion users by 2020, and Android taking the majority of that share, there’s more opportunity than ever for cyber crime.
What’s Being Done?
Cyber crime against smartphones may be overwhelming, but plenty of organizations are doing what they can to reduce the amount of exposure to attack:
· Many firms now require staff to use devices with security profiles or anti-virus software installed on them already.
· Biometric security and other verification methods are making phones more secure.
· Providers, such as Apple, are using security methods like tokenization to ensure banking and personal details are as secure as possible. Most providers now allow users to perform a remote deletion of data in the event phones are stolen.
· Many organizations now require employees to use VPNs when using corporate phones.
Through these methods, along with the distribution of anti-virus software designed for smartphones, more people are becoming aware of the dangers of cyber crime in the mobile space.
Where to Now?
Are you interested in a career in cyber crime, especially cyber crime relating to mobile devices? Why not look at our Careers page, and see where a job in cyber security can take you.