A New Rise In Malware Infections Via PCs And Mobile Devices

During the first half of 2015, the majority of security threats over mobile networks have been increasingly come from a seemingly unlikely source; Personal computers and laptops, according to a report released on last month from Alcatel-Lucent based in Melbourne, Australia.

The most recent and trusted report from Motive Security Labs Malware Report which is released twice a year. Studies showed common trends and statistics for malware infections in more than 100 million devices across the globe connected through mobile and fixed networks where Motive Security Guardian malware detection technology is deployed. Motive Security Guardian detects malware infections by looking for known C&C (command and control) exchanges in the network traffic.

While the study detected a general drop in Android infections in the early part of the year, 80% of malware infections detected on mobile networks were traced to Windows-based computers and laptops connected to the mobile network via phones, dongles and mobile Wi-Fi hotspots. This is a significant change in trends show during 2013 and 2014 when the source of mobile network infections were roughly split 50:50 between Android and Windows-supported devices.

As mobile networks on a global scale are growing exponentially as the primary way to access the internet, organised Cyber-criminals continue to contribute considerably to the infection rate on mobile networks owing to their disruptive ventures to the Windows malware ecosystem.

Why does this matter and why is this important to know?

Simply put most of us all have a smartphone of some sort which is a computer in our pocket which is capable of more than we give it credit for.

These trouble-makers are using this mobile platform to spread larger doses of spyware into the world wide web which is evolving more everyday into the wild-wild-west on the internet.   For those who have never heard the comical sarcastic IT phrase, it’s due to the fact that 10 of the 25 top threats on smartphones were in the mobile spyware category and are often delivered bundled with games and other free software. These generally free sneaky apps allow a new generation of Cyber-criminals to track a phone through geo-location and eavesdrop on calls, text messages, email and browser histories.

“The modern smartphone also presents the perfect platform for corporate and personal espionage, information theft, denial-of-service attacks on both businesses and governments, and banking and advertising scams,” Patrick Tan, General Manager of Network Intelligence at Alcatel-Lucent, said in a statement following the release of the study. “It can be used simply as a tool to photograph, film, record audio, scan networks and immediately transmit results to a safe site for analysis.”

Adware also greatly increased in 2015 with the intention of the automatically rendered advertisements becoming more sinister.  Some even contained in software bundles offering free apps or games, adds a plugin to Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome that when installed could inject malware on the back end without the users knowledge.

While examining the top 25 threats to mobile devices myself from the 2015 Motive report from Alcatel-Lucent.  Here is a summary of the main threats that are currently trending during this second half of the year:

  • Spy-phone apps that track calls, text messages, location, email and browsing;
  • ‘Scare-ware’ apps that try to extort money by claiming to have encrypted the phone’s data;
  • Identity theft apps that steal personal information from the device;
  • Banking ‘trojans’ that attempt to steal banking credentials and credit card numbers;
  • SMS trojans that make a living by sending text messages to ‘premium’ numbers;
  • Malicious adware that uses personal information, without consent, to deliver annoying targeted ads.
  • A proxy app allowing hackers to anonymously browse the web through an infected phone – at the owner’s expense.

 Here is a question which I’m sure you have asked yourself during this article. So how I protect myself?

A good place to start for my fellow Android users is to visit the Google Play Store and protect yourself by installing some sort of security app which has at least an anti-virus scanning feature and a web protection component.

Here is a link for you to easily get started.

google-play-store-security-apps

Our next article will follow up from this topic and expand on more knowledge about better managing our personal mobile devices in the workplace.

For all of our readers that wish to touch base with us to find out more about this topic.  Please feel free to contact IT Futures and the article publisher for advice at info@itfutures.edu.au

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