According to the 2018 Internet Security Threat Report from Symantec, threats within the mobile space have been increasing over the years. However, the attacks are not only increasing in volume, but are becoming more sophisticated and varied as well. Attackers have figured out methods of creating revenue from mobile devices through ransomware and cryptocurrency mining, among other avenues.
From 2016 to 2017, the number of mobile malware variants increased by 54%, from 17,214 to 26,579. Symantec posits that this drastic increase is due to the fact that “while the attacks continue to evolve and mature, the same can’t always be said of the device user. Many users continue to make life easy for attackers by continuing to use older operating systems. In particular, on Android, only 20 percent of devices are running the newest major version.”
If users neglect to update their operating systems, their devices are less secure, and therefore easier targets for attackers. Unfortunately for Android users, a large number of older devices lack the power to run the latest operating system, and 80% of current Android users are not using the newest major release.
Symantec also found that attackers have configured ways to profit by using ransomware on mobile phones. Certain mobile apps began to pop up in 2017, allowing attackers to automatically create their own ransomware. This made the barrier against attacks much weaker.
In addition to this, voice-enabled ransomware emerged. In this instance, a speech recognition module would capture the victim saying their unlock code, thereby giving it to the attacker. The attackers use these methods, lock the users’ devices or encrypt their data, and extort a ransom from the victim before they can gain access to their device again.
This increase in attacks on mobile devices is overwhelming, especially due to the fact that almost anyone can be a victim. However, because user behavior is such a large part of mobile security, it is also one of the best lines of defense against cyber criminals threatening mobile devices. Symantec suggests that users should exclusively install apps from the primary app stores, and avoid clicking on unknown links or approving device accesses and permissions without a reason.
To read Symantec’s full report, click here.
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