Whatever you may think of hackers, the one thing they are not is foolish.
Hackers are devious, sneaky and in some cases just downright nasty, but it is always important to remember that in most cases they are also very clever.
This is why hackers for years continued to mine the Windows PC install base for victims. Not only was Windows the world’s dominant computing platform, it was also extremely vulnerable to attacks. Both businesses and consumers used it widely.
This is the reason malware on Apple’s Mac OS X desktop software is so rare. Not because it is so much more secure than Windows, but because the return on investment for hackers is just not good enough.
However, the world becomes more and more mobile. We all carry around devices which are effectively pocket supercomputers. Hackers are switching focus and are increasingly targeting our smartphones.
Windows is no longer the world’s biggest computing platform. Google’s Android is. And so hackers are increasingly looking for ways to undermine the security of smartphones and to a lesser extent tablets.
Android Malware Are on the Rise
According to the Nokia Threat Intelligence Report which was published in H1 2016, the average monthly infection rate among Android smartphones has almost doubled in the first half of 2016 compared to the final six months of 2015.
The report also reveals that the number of Android malware samples in Nokia’s malware database increased by 75 percent in the first half of 2016 to 8.9 million.
(Source : Nokia Threat Intelligence Report – H1 2016)
It is unsurprising that hackers are going after the Android platform, given its huge popularity (it commands over 80 percent of the smartphone market). Consumers today use their smartphones for everything from doing their banking to monitoring their homes.
Hackers Can Access All your Information
Attacking a Windows PC could give hackers access to everything the victim was doing, including stealing login credentials for online services. But accessing a modern smartphone gives criminals access to this information and a whole lot more.
Access to social media accounts, smart home apps, messaging services like WhatsApp and Viber; emails; pictures and video, etc. The list of sensitive material you access on your phone is virtually endless. If you are using your phone for work, the implications of being infected with malware are even greater.
According to both law enforcement officials and cybersecurity specialists, criminals are increasingly targeting banking details through mobile phones. Customers moved away from access their accounts on desktops and instead use banking apps.
Operating Systems Have Vulnerabilities
Malware programs like Acecard and GM Bot are increasingly popular among cybercriminals with the malicious software targeting both Android and iOS.
Last month Apple has urged iPhone users to update their software to patch a security flaw in iOS which left the operating system vulnerable to being hijacked by an attacker.
Smartphone Users Are Careless
Despite this increased focus on mobile attacks, smartphone users are taking fewer precautions to protect their devices and not more, according to research by SAS and Javelin Strategy & Research. The research found that fewer than one-third of smartphone users are using antivirus or antimalware software. While just 25 percent are changing passwords periodically.
With banking-specific mobile malware on sale on the dark web for as much as $15,000, it is clear that this is big business for criminals. It is, therefore, imperative that consumers and businesses alike protect their smartphones. For most people, it is the single most valuable thing they own.
Are you using an antivirus or an antimalware software on your smartphone? Share your thoughts in the comments below.