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What are smartphone cybersecurity threats?

What are smartphone cybersecurity threats?

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Smartphone security threats also include theft of login credentials for corporate networks. Indeed, mobile phishing attacks, which use texts and emails to trick recipients into clicking on malicious URLs, are up 85% in the last year.

A smartphone security threat is a means of cyber attack that targets mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Similar to a hacking attack on a PC or enterprise server, a mobile security threat exploits vulnerabilities in mobile software, hardware, and network connections to enable malicious, unauthorized activities on the target device.

Unfortunately, there are many different kinds of mobile security threats. New attacks regularly come to the attention of cybersecurity experts, the following are among the most common:

Web-based mobile threats. Mobile websites can download malware onto our mobile devices without our permission or awareness. Phishing is a typical way attackers get us to click on links to sites containing mobile threats. For example, a hacker might set up a website that looks legitimate (e.g. like our banking site) to capture our login credentials. What can we do about web-based mobile threats? Security software on our phones can help detect malicious websites and phishing attempts. It also pays to be extra careful and attentive. For example, the IRS will never send an email requesting our tax data. (They only use the US Postal Service.) An email pointing to an IRS website is almost guaranteed to be a scam.

App-based threats. Hackers create malicious apps that we download or even buy. Once installed, these apps can steal our personal data from our devices or spend our money with our tap and pay apps. It’s a good practice to check charges and purchases carefully. Keeping mobile software up to date also helps defends against malicious apps, as device makers periodically update their software to patch vulnerabilities that these apps exploit. The goal is to protect the information stored or accessible through the device (including personally identifiable info-PII, social accounts, documents, credentials, etc.).

Network threats. Mobile devices are usually connected to at least two networks. and sometimes more. These include cellular connection, Wi-FI, Bluetooth and GPS. Each of these points of connection can be exploited by hackers to take over a device, trick the user or penetrate a corporate network. WiFi spoofing, for example, is a threat in which an attacker simulates the access to an open WiFi network and tricks users into connecting to then sniff sensible data that are being processed by this network. The suggested best practices are to switch off antennas that are not in use and make sure security settings are configured to prevent unauthorized WiFi access.

Physical threats. This may sound obvious, but mobile devices are small and easy to steal. They also get lost pretty often. Without adequate security, a stolen mobile device is a treasure trove of personal and financial information for a crook. To mitigate physical threats to mobile devices, it’s wise to establish strong passwords and set up the device to lock itself when not in use. Anti-theft tracking software also helps recover a phone that’s gone missing.

These malicious actors sometimes even hide inside well-known and useful free apps that exploit vulnerabilities or take advantage of certain permissions to then download the malicious aspect into the phone. It’s important that, when an app asks for these permissions, their use is justified.

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