Mobile phones have increasingly become part of the fabric of our day-to-day lives. We use them not only to communicate with one another, but to consume content, browse the internet, navigate roads, and much more. It makes sense, then, that as mobile phone usage and reliance continue to rise, so do the number and variety of threats that take advantage of the medium. After all, the more people use their phones, the more opportunities hackers will have to exploit vulnerabilities and gain from an effective attack. In 2020, in the midst of a global health crisis that has many people using their own mobile devices to work remotely, that threat is more prevalent than ever.
F1 Solutions prides itself on staying on top of trends in cybersecurity and malware, enabling us to best serve our clients in defending against them. To this end, we’ve compiled a list of the top mobile security threats of 2020 and the steps to take to avoid them.
1. Malicious apps
Mobile phone users unwittingly send data to malicious third parties primarily via mobile apps that are classified as “riskware.” Riskware apps can be downloaded from app stores without charge and perform functions as advertised. What users don’t know is that these apps send personal and company data in their phones to remote servers. From these, advertisers and cybercriminals can mine the data for their own use.
Aside from riskware apps, hostile enterprise-signed mobile apps move data across corporate networks without tripping any alarms by using distribution codes native to operating systems like iOS and Android.
The best defense against malicious apps is vetting. Apps that ask for more than is reasonably necessary to function are likely to be bad news and should be avoided, so only grant permissions to apps that are deemed secure and essential for their function.
2. Unsecured Wi-Fi
While convenient, free Wi-Fi networks pose significant risks. Most of these are unsecured, leaving mobile phones vulnerable to hacking and other cybercriminal activity. Through these Wi-Fi networks, hackers can gain access to users’ social media accounts, payment apps, and VoIP conversations. Avoid such issues by minimizing public Wi-Fi use when possible, and refraining from accessing private or sensitive accounts like those for online banking over such Wi-Fi networks.
3. Network spoofing
Another reason to be wary of free Wi-Fi networks is the cyberattack technique called network spoofing. This involves cybercriminals disguising access points as legitimate public Wi-Fi networks They’ll give these access points innocuous names like “Free Airport Wi-Fi” in order to trick users into trying to use these to connect to the internet. But actually, these are traps that prompt users to create “accounts” by providing their email address and setting up a password. The criminals, counting on people to use the same login credentials across different accounts, then attempt to gain access to their victims’ accounts with this stolen information.
To avoid falling into this trap, always use unique passwords when connecting to public networks, and never give away personal information unless you can verify the recipient.
4. Phishing attacks
Another technique that utilizes deception is phishing. Here, emails are sent to trick users into either downloading malware-laced attachments or clicking malicious links and giving away sensitive information. Mobile phones are particularly susceptible to phishing attacks due to the more limited display capabilities they have compared to computers or tablets, making fake emails more difficult to identify. Moreover, people on mobile phones are more liable to open and respond to emails as soon as they receive them. Always take care to verify any email links you open, especially when on a mobile phone.
When it comes to mobile phone security, cybercriminals aren’t the only threat actors around. A surprising number of people have fallen victim to spyware installed by their spouses, colleagues, or employers. This kind of software allows the installer to monitor the movement and activities of the victims. Phones can be protected against these using comprehensive antivirus and malware detection suites.
6. Broken cryptography
Broken cryptography arises when app developers use weak encryption algorithms or leave “back doors” open to security threats. These can be exploited to gain access to passwords or hijack phone functions. It falls on developers and organizations to keep encryption standards up to protect their customers.
7. Improper session handling
Many apps generate “tokens” that allow users to take multiple actions without having to verify their identity for each one. A token in this case serves as the means by which the app validates a user or device and defines a single access attempt or “session.” Improper session handling occurs when this token is shared with third parties.
It can be a wild world out there for mobile phone users. Thankfully, you’re not alone. F1 Solutions is your trusted partner in keeping your business protected from mobile phone-related threats. Call us today.