The Threat of Mobile Malware to Cyber Security

mobile phone malware

Even though here at SDTEK our focus is providing managed it services for small to medium companies, we do like to help bring awareness to all sorts of security risks to any type of device. It’s probably pretty safe to say we can’t do without smartphones. Whether it is for personal use, entertainment, connecting with friends and family, or business management, mobile phones are an essential part of modern life.

Nonetheless, the freedoms to connect and engage with others through mobile phones can be threatened by the spread of mobile malware. This form of malware is something that is not really spoken about as much as let’s say keeping a computer network safe. However, it is important and we hope by shedding some light on this topic that you will find this blog post to be a helpful resource. 

What is Mobile Malware?

Mobile malware is malicious code designed to attack and spread to mobile or smartphones by leveraging operating system vulnerabilities to infect system and application software. Essentially it is a cyber attack directed to your phone.

Many people are familiar with the computer virus but little is known about mobile malware. This makes them more destructive since they can operate undetected for a long time.

Your smartphone may be working fine while malware is busy stealing your data. Android is the most targeted operating system since it holds the largest market share.

Mobile malware may steal victims’ personal data, create a backdoor to the OS or carry out unauthorized financial transactions and communications without the owner’s knowledge.

Mobile Malware’s Threat to Cyber Security

Mobile devices are targeted because they are often not as secured as PCs and desktops. Moreover, enterprise mobile device security solutions and policies are often challenging to install or enforce.

Many devices on the Android platform often run outdated software that is easier to hack. Some iPhone users also don’t upgrade their devices as long as it is working making them a target of malware.

Hackers can also use mobile device’s lax security to indirectly attack businesses which might be difficult to breach.

Most Common Mobile Malware

  1. Hummingbad Malware

This malware was discovered in 2016 and has infected over 10 million Android devices. Hummingbad steals and sell user’s detail and also display ads which it taps on without the victims’ knowledge. The app generates large revenue using the victims’ devices’ resources.

  1. Shedun Malware

This is a family of malware targeting Android system identified in 2015, it was discovered to affect about 20,000 popular Android apps.

The malware spread by repackaging official popular apps such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and others with adware. The malware then established itself as a system app upon installation. It generates revenues by serving ads.

The worst aspect of Shedun infection is that many victims cannot remove the virus and have to get a new device because removing the virus involve rooting the device which is beyond the technical abilities of most Android users.

  1. XcodeGhost

XcodeGhost is a compromised Xcode variant that bundles malicious code in any iOS apps compiled with it. It was distributed locally independent of official sources.

The malware infected apps steal device and users details and also has a remote-control capability through which attackers can send and execute commands on the target iOS devices.The current time, OS, network and other device details are sent encrypted to remote hacker servers.

XcodeGhost apps can hijack URL opening on devices and also prompt alert dialog.

Banking, IMs, stock trading and games iOS applications were all infected. Even the popular WeChat was not safe from XcodeGhost.

Other common mobile malware includes:

  •   Dendroid malware for Android.
  •   Ikee worm on iOS.
  •   Gunpowder worms on Android
  •   Droid Kungfu Trojan on Android

How to Protect Your Phone

  1. Update your mobile phones operating system.
  2. Install security and antivirus software on your device.
  3. Only install an app from trusted sources such as Google Play and Apple app store.
  4. Ignore suspicious links in emails, chat messages and text messages.
  5. Use a VPN when connecting to public WiFi.

Mobile malware is out there and you must take steps to protect your device from infection and hijacking. They are a big threat to cyber security even though they have only attracted little attention. Be vigilant and proactive while using your mobile phones.

To learn more about our managed security services, please visit our secureTEK page on our website.  

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