Beware! 5 Types of Mobile Attacks That Breach Your Phone
Smartphones, iPads and tablets have become an integral part of life and are preferred by people to access the web/apps or communicate with others. These devices have become so popular because of their portability, they can connect to the internet from anywhere! In Melbourne, one of the most used apps is the PTV, which has live updates about trains, trams and buses. Every morning, people are seen using it to get an ETA on their arrival to work! Of course, this ETA includes the time to buy a nice coffee from a local shop, because we, Melburnians love a great cup of coffee in the mornings!
In recent years, the tasks that were performed on computers are now being done on smartphones and tablets. Microsoft has released a study that states that almost 80% of the work in many organisations is being carried out on mobile devices. What’s more, almost half of all the searches on the internet are from a mobile device. With this recent trend, mobile devices are the new targets for hackers. Hackers have realised that mobile devices hold sensitive information such as credit cards for NFC payments, bank apps, emails, and several other important things. They are now designing new kinds of viruses and mobile malware to steal sensitive information.
Roughly 36.5% of organisations and businesses were attacked by mobile malware and almost 2.5 million users downloaded adware apps without their knowledge in just the year 2020! Therefore, it is essential to use the same precautions used for PCs like antivirus/anti-malware, DNS filtering, automated OS/app updates and managing backup on a mobile device. Do not worry, we have rounded up a list of the most common mobile threats that breach your data and once you are aware of these, you can effectively mitigate them.
1. Apps that hide malware
Mobile malware consists of the same categories as PC malware such as ransomware, trojans, spyware or adware, etc. Most people download apps from the Play Store/App Store without thinking twice. Some of them have malware hidden within them. It may not be easy at first to determine if an app has hidden malware or not. Watch out for showy graphics and highly rated apps with no user reviews. These apps may also not perform their function when downloaded. The malware hides in the background of these apps and infects the device when it is downloaded. Often, it gets hard to find these apps once downloaded as they mask themselves using a common default system app look. The malware can look like settings, a clock or a calendar on your phone!
2. Through Communications
In many cases, messaging apps do not have encrypted communication. Most users use multiple apps for communication but fail to check if they are secure enough. What that means is that, if you send someone your credit card details or a password through the messaging app when it is not encrypted, a hacker can easily access that information. That is why it is important to check if your messages are encrypted before sending sensitive information.
3. Public Wi-Fi usage
Most public Wi-Fi connections are not secure but more than 75% of people use it whenever they get a chance. They generally use it if they run out of mobile data or want to save it for another time. After all, mobile data is a little expensive! While on public Wi-Fi, many users tend to use apps that contain sensitive information like online banking, online shopping or entering credit card details on some websites. In these situations, there are chances of a man-in-the-middle attack. A man-in-the-middle attack occurs when hackers connect to the same Wi-Fi and monitor victims who send unencrypted communications. These hackers can then, very easily steal sensitive information being transmitted. Hence, when you must connect to public Wi-Fi, use a VPN app that encrypts your communications and makes it impossible for hackers to read your transmissions.
4. Public USB Charging Stations
Wouldn’t you love to see a public USB charging station when you are on low battery and still got a long day? Here in Melbourne, we have plenty of them in public places and these are absolutely essential because we also use our phones to tap on/off the public transport, make payments and click pictures of the beautiful skyline! However, these charging stations can easily be infected with malware and sometimes hackers even set up fake charging docks in public places. When you start charging your phone through the USB cable on these docks, the malware clones all your data or infects it with some malicious software. This is because USB cables not only charge devices but also transmit data from one device to another. It is therefore recommended to avoid public charging ports. Instead, you can use power adapters that plug into the outlet or you can buy a “USB charge-only” cable for safety.
5. Devices running on old software
Almost 40% of Android phones run on old operating systems that are outdated and do not qualify for routine crucial security updates. Without an update to the OS, the vulnerability of your device increases manifold. A hacker can manipulate a software bug on the OS or on the installed apps to install malware and access the phone’s data. In this scenario, businesses must also ensure that their employees have updated OS running on their mobiles so that their networks are not breached, and their data remains safe. Always, update your phone and apps to avoid this as many updates have important security patches. Even better if you turn on auto-update for your phone that automatically installs the updates when available.
In conclusion, as mobile devices are the most preferred devices for many people and produce approximately half of the internet’s traffic, it is critical to keep them protected from hackers. Get in touch with us for more information on mobile Cybersecurity solutions.
Thanks to DALL-E for the featured image!
About the author
Yener is the founder and Managing Director of Intuitive IT. Prior to running his own business Yener worked for a number of corporate organisations where he gained invaluable experience and skills, as well as an understanding of how IT can complement and improve business outcomes.