Mobile Devices: The New Target for Hackers

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With the increased mobile workforce due to the ongoing pandemic, criminals have shifted their target from traditional desktops/laptops to mobile devices, especially smartphones. Let us investigate the reasons why hackers target mobile devices.

 

  1. Always switched on:

Mobile devices are always switched on, compared to laptops and desktops which will be turned off after use or will be in sleep mode till the next use. Mobile devices, mostly smartphones are never turned off and hence it is easy for the attackers to perform a nefarious task.

  1. Large amount of information:

Smartphones contain a large amount of personal as well as professional data, which makes them an easy entryway for intruders. Hackers know that most users use the same password for all the mobile applications and so it is easy to move to the user’s laptop from the mobile and then to the corporate data.

  1. Easy malware delivery:

It is easy to deliver malware via mobile devices, as the user visits unknown websites and games through mobile phones rather than laptops or desktops. Once malware enters the device it can steal your information, install adware that forces the user to view webpages or even download apps.

  1. Multiple attack vectors:

There are different ways to compromise a mobile device compared to laptops. A user can install a malicious app unknowingly or even knowingly thinking it as a trusted app. Also, the usage of public wi-fi can be a gateway for the attackers to enter the device.

  1. Third-party usage:

Third-party software is a software application made by someone other than the manufacturer. Downloading apps from these third-party stores is risky, as it might infect your device with malicious software. This malware enables the hackers to control your device and access your critical information stored in the device.

  1. User trust:

Users are likely to trust mobile devices more than any other devices and are very keen to respond to alerts and popups. It is very likely for the user to install an app in response to a prompt or enter personal information in a pop-up window.

 

Best Practices to be followed

Here are some best practices that can be followed by individuals/organizations to prevent or reduce mobile device cyberattacks.

  1. Always change the factory-set passwords on your mobile device as soon as possible.
  2. Never set easy-to-guess passwords like ‘0000’, ‘01234’, ‘abcd’, ‘letmein’, birthdays, etc.
  3. Avoid autofill username and password settings feature.
  4. Install system updates and patches as soon as they are available and keep your Operating System up-to-date.
  5. Be wary of installing apps from an unknown source.
  6. Download apps only from official sources like apple store, play store, google play, etc.
  7. Install antivirus software on your mobile device.
  8. Turn off the internet when not in use.
  9. Avoid storing too much personal information on your mobile device.
  10. Set two-factor authentications for all the major accounts.
  11. Use a dedicated e-mail address for account authentication and password reset.

 

Types of Mobile Threats

Mobile threats generally fall under the below 4 categories.

  1. App-based Threats: These types of mobile threats occur when a user downloads malicious applications that look legit but are actually intended to steal personal information.
  2. Web-based Threats: These types of mobile threats occur when a user visits a malicious or affected website or web page that looks fine on the front-end but downloads malware into the device.
  3. Physical Threats: This type of mobile threat occurs when a device is lost, stolen or unattended. The hackers can access all the information stored in the device and use it for fraud.
  4. Network Threats: This type of mobile threat happens when cybercriminals target unsecured Wi-Fi or public Wi-Fi. The mobile devices that try to connect with this Wi-Fi will get compromised and hacked.

 

Commonly found Mobile Threats

  1. Insufficient authentication
  2. Poor encryption
  3. Data leakage
  4. Unsecured network
  5. Weak server-side controls
  6. Improper session handling
  7. Poor code quality
  8. Insecure data storage
  9. Improper platform usage
  10. Poor transport layer protection
  11. Client-side injection
  12. Security decisions via untrusted inputs
  13. Lack of binary protections

To know more details on the types of mobile threats visit https://valuementor.com/blogs/application-security-testing/mobile-application-security-threats-and-best-practices/

 

Signs that your Mobile is Hacked

Here are some helpful clues that might indicate that your device is hacked.

  1. Even if the device remains unused, you will find that your battery is getting drained quickly than before.
  2. You will find inappropriate or strange pop-ups flashing, that indicate the presence of malware.
  3. You will notice calls and text messages on your device that are not made by you.
  4. You will see apps on your device which you have not installed.
  5. If you see a sudden increase in your data usage, it is time to investigate for malware in your device.
  6. The device suddenly becomes slow and sluggish, and you will find that the device is freezing frequently.
  7. If you find unusual activities on any accounts linked to your mobile, it is an indicator that your phone is hacked.

 

How to avoid another attack?

In case if your mobile device is compromised, delete all the apps and messages that seem to be suspicious and do a factory reset. The most important point is to avoid such hacks in the future by following the below steps,

  • Install an antivirus software
  • Download security updates
  • Protect device with PIN or biometrics
  • Check your accounts regularly
  • Avoid installing unknown apps
  • Do not click on indefinite links

 

Summing Up,

Smartphones are becoming an attractive target for hackers owing to their wide usage and the amount of information they carry. Furthermore, nobody really cares about mobile device security beyond a security lock pattern or password. It is high time individuals and organizations realize the need for proper security measures for mobile devices. New threats are evolving every day, so keep yourself updated with the latest cybersecurity threats and news.

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