Many of us spend a significant portion of our day using our mobile devices. From web browsing, taking photos, and messaging, to emailing and banking, there’s not a whole lot you can’t get done on your smartphone. Unfortunately, hackers have leveraged our fascination with our devices against us. Mobile cyberattacks are on the rise. Nearly 3.2 million instances of malware that encrypts or steals data from mobile devices were discovered on Android phones in 2018. And it appears that this trend isn’t slowing down any time soon. As outlined in CheckPoint’s Cyber Attack Trends: 2019 Mid-Year Report, attacks on mobile devices (particularly on Android handsets) were up by 50 percent in the first half of 2019.
Here are a few notable trends and developments in mobile security to be aware of, as well as strategies you can implement to keep your personal data and mobile devices secure.
Cybercriminals are becoming increasingly stealthy with their infection techniques. Instead of targeting each individual user one at a time, malicious actors have begun inserting their code at the supply chain and device manufacturing stage. Often, this malware operates without the user even being aware. This strategy allows cyberattackers to target a higher number of users quickly.
Another disconcerting strategy being used by hackers is covert apps. These apps seem harmless yet install malware in the background. Recently, three selfie apps posing as legitimate apps on GooglePlay were discovered to be malicious. The apps were capable of installing adware as well as spyware that could do everything from making and recording phone calls to retrieving the device’s location.
Mobile Banking Trojans
Not surprisingly, one of the most popular targets for cybercriminals are mobile banking applications. These banking trojans have been developing rapidly and are a particularly dangerous type of malware. They can steal funds directly from user accounts and are also capable of gaining access to other credentials. This malware operates in a similar way to the covert apps described above in that they appear legitimate.
Protecting Your Mobile Devices and Personal Information
Despite the surge in mobile cyberattacks, there are ways you can safeguard your devices and personal data. First, be sure to update your software as soon as a new version becomes available. Often, these software updates have security upgrades that target detected vulnerabilities.
Second, in light of the adware and spyware masquerading as legitimate apps, it’s safest to download apps only from reputable app stores like the Apple App Store or Google Play. Third-party sites are more likely to have fraudulent apps available for download.
Finally, ensure that you back up your data to the cloud. This way, if your device happens to be compromised, you’ll be able to retrieve your personal data.
The rise of mobile cyberattacks is certainly disconcerting, but education is an essential first step toward protecting yourself and your mobile devices. Being aware of the latest strategies that hackers are leveraging will go a long way toward ensuring your information remains safe and secure.