Posted by: Renodis
According to a recent study by McAfee, 13,000 different kinds of malware were found targeting mobile devices in 2013 compared to less than 2,000 in 2011. In addition, Symantec’s 2013 Internet Security Threat Report indicates that one waterhole attack infected 500 organizations in a single day! Since this threat shows no signs of slowing down, it’s more important than ever to learn how to not only spot mobile viruses and phishing attempts, but how to enact a level of control and protection for your mobile environment.
This topic will be a three-part blog series. In part 1, we will cover what mobile viruses and phishing attempts are, why it’s important to know about them, and how to identify them. In the upcoming second and third parts, we will cover the controls and protection you can put in place to protect your mobile device as well as corporate level protection with an MDM (Mobile Device Management) platform.
Mobile Viruses and Phishing Attempts: What Are They?
For this blog I will concentrate on the two most popular mobile operating systems: Android and iOS. In the simplest terms, I define mobile viruses and phishing as follows:
Mobile Virus – This is software that is designed to attack mobile devices. The most common types are Trojans and Worms.
- Application viruses are rare due to the stringent requirements and application review process Apple places on the applications that are allowed in the App Store.
- Other common ways to get viruses is by SMS messages. It is rare on non-jailbroken devices.
- If the device is jailbroken, then all bets are off. By jailbreaking your iPhone, you pretty much kill the defenses that were in place to protect you against most viruses.
- There are more malware applications found in the Google Play store than Apple due to the open source nature of the applications for Android devices. Android is becoming more and more of a hackers paradise. A good example is one of the latest viruses for Android, the “Android.Pincer”. “Android.Pincer” is a Trojan horse for Android devices that steals confidential information and opens a back door on the compromised device.
- If you have changed your settings to allow applications from unknown sources this also opens the device up to potential malware applications
- Just like a jailbroken iPhone, rooted Android devices can be more susceptible to viruses. But I must admit that users who have expert knowledge and know-how may prefer a rooted phone to gain full access of the phone to
- Allow you to load powerful apps
- Gives you better backup and restoration (for example using Titanium for backups)
- Gives you better performance and Custom ROMs flashing
Note: with regards to jailbroken and rooted devices, they can be controlled in different way depending on the ownership (corporate liable or individual liable). I’ll go into more detail on this topic in the second part of this series.
Phishing – This involves an attempt to get information from the user. Some of the key information that most are after are: passwords, names, addresses, Social Security Numbers, and any other confidential information.
According to Kaspersky Lab’s Anti-Phishing Component Detections, the top three methods to gain information from users are:
1. Social Networking Sites – at 35.93%
2. Search Engines – at 14.95%
3. Financial E-pay Organizations and Banks – 14.93%
The risk of phishing attempts hits iOS and Android about the same because these attacks are looking for information from the users. But apparently there is something unique about the way Apple delivers SMS messages that makes the iPhone particularly vulnerable to spoofing or smishing (SMS phishing) attacks.
Mobile Viruses and Phishing Attempts: Why is it Important to Know About Them?
You have made a significant investment in your mobile device in terms of time, money, and content. Losing this investment greatly impacts your daily life and productivity. The loss of confidential information also may allow opportunities for identify theft which can mean credit card fraud, employment related fraud, bank fraud, benefits fraud, wage fraud, just to name a few.
Mobile Viruses and Phishing Attempts: How to Identify Them?
Mobile Virus –
Watch for behavior changes. I know that may sound strange because most times that phrase is used in reference to people, but have you ever tried to do something on your phone and it did not perform the way you expected it to? Well, if you are saying that a lot you might have a virus.
- Look for SMS text messages that you did not send
- Take note if files have been removed that you knew were there previously
- Watch for files that do not open that you could open before
- Watch for applications that are trying to download onto your device from unknown sites or unsolicited sources (Android)
- Beware of unsolicited calls or emails asking for information
- If you are filling out an online form, pay close attention to the information being provided, especially if it is a site or an organization that you are not familiar with
- Beware of threating calls or emails, for example: “Your credit has been compromised please call us right away and provide” (asking for confidential information) or fill out this form (ask for confidential information) to resolve
Mobile Viruses and Phishing Attempts Part 1: The Summary
To recap, viruses (aka malware) are more prevalent on Android devices than iOS, but phishing attempts hit both types of phones almost equally. Also, looking for strange behavior can be a good indicator of an infection. Now that you know what mobile viruses and phishing attempts are, why it’s important, and how to identify them, stay tuned for part two and three of this blog that details how to protect yourself from viruses and phishing attempts and corporate level protection with an MDM.