5 New Threats to Mobile Device Security and What You Can Do About Them

February 04, 2019 Sarah Challis Articles

5 New Threats to Mobile Device Security

With the ever-increasing reliance on mobile devices for secure personal information such as banking apps and logins, mobile users are no longer immune to attacks from mobile malware. Therefore, you should ask yourself;

Just how secure is my mobile device?

Mobile device security is paramount in this era where devices, such as smartphones and tablets, are used to carry important credentials. Especially, credit card information and logins to confidential online accounts. A simple breach of your mobile device can give a hacker access to your private information, banking details, or even allow them to take photos and videos using your camera without your knowledge.

Today, your cell is not necessarily safe from mobile malware threats. According to McAfee Labs, more than 1.5 million new incidents of mobile malware attacks were detected in the 1st quarter of 2017 alone.

A survey by Dimensional Research for Check Point Software revealed that 20% of the companies surveyed complained of having their mobile devices breached. Surprisingly, a quarter of the respondents had no idea that they had actually experienced an attack. An experiment conducted by an ethical hacker at an Amsterdam café, for example, revealed just how easily a hacker can access other people’s devices using the café’s public Wifi. The hacker was able to see what people were doing on their devices, what games they were playing, their Google searches, email accounts and passwords, and even more.

There are many cases of mobile devices being breached and users suffering a great deal from it. Here are 12 plus examples of crime stories to give you an insight into the importance of mobile device security.

The 11 Most Critical Protections Every Business Must Have in Place to Protect Themselves from Cyber Attacks and Data Breaches

Now let’s look at 5 new threats to your mobile device security and what you can do about them:

1. Smartphone cameras

Perhaps you didn’t think that your phone camera could pose a serious privacy threat to you. Well, sadly it can. Last month, a serious privacy issue was discovered with the iPhone. It was revealed that iPhone can be exploited by app developers to secretly capture photos and record videos by enabling both your front and back cameras without your knowledge. The app developers can have the captured pictures and videos uploaded immediately, and also run real-time facial recognition to detect facial features and expressions.

What can you do?

It’s either you simply cover your camera with tape like Mark Zuckerberg or go with the more practical option of checking the settings on your apps and not allowing access to the camera.


2. Wifi (The Krack Attack)

This new threat to mobile devices arose when researchers found a flaw in the security protocol (WPA2) used by most wireless networks today. The weakness means that an intruder launching the Krack Attack can break into a device and steal data flowing between your mobile and the target Wi-Fi network, including photos, passwords, messages and more.

What can you do?

The solution for this is to update your devices immediately. But if updates are not yet available to you, perhaps consider connecting your devices to your router via an Ethernet cable.


3. Dead apps

Dead apps are apps that are no longer supported by the Apple or Google Play stores. In the recent past, security teams for both Apple and Google have been silently getting rid of an undisclosed number of apps from their stores for reasons such as copyright infringement, malware issues, and apps leaking data to third parties. These apps pose a big risk to your mobile device safety.

What can you do?

The solution is to update your apps regularly and then delete those that are no longer supported.


4. Spyware

Spyware is malware designed to allow an attacker to spy or conduct surveillance on the victim. The Pegasus spyware, for example, proved the capability to hack an iPhone or iPad and harvest data as well as spy on the victim. The spyware also attacked Android this year in April and showed its capability to do broad surveillance on a victim over time.

What can you do?

The best way to prevent an attack by spyware is to restrict access to your mobile device both physically and non-physically. Consider using passwords and pins to lock your phone, use anti-virus software, turn your Bluetooth off, and think before connecting to any public wifi networks. You should also check your WifFi router at home and in the office. If it is more then 2-3 years old and the manufacturer hasn't released a patch, it should be replaced with a newer device which should be patched right away. 


5. Mobile botnets

Mobile bots are a type of malware that automatically run on a mobile device without antivirus software. The malware gains full access to the device and any of its contents. It then communicates with and gets instructions from a command and control server somewhere. Botnets can root millions of mobile devices and open backdoors on them; allowing them to be used for almost anything, including theft of sensitive data.

What can you do?

Here you will need to be careful with the emails and apps you download. Be keen to spot suspicious emails and only download trusted apps. Also, check for unusual behavior on your device like your battery running low fast and sudden disconnections from networks.

In conclusion, it’s apparent that your mobile device may not be quite as safe as you think. However, with the above tips, you can be able to protect yourself against the top 5 new threats to mobile device security.

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