Why Your Mobile Device Isn’t As Secure As You Think

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Why Your Mobile Device Isn’t As Secure As You Think

Blue Coat


Most people have the illusion that phones are somehow impervious to viruses and that you are safe browsing virtually anything online. Not so. Mobile usage is growing fast, and it is only going to get bigger in 2014 and beyond.


While it’s true that mobile users have been relatively free from attacks when compared to PC users, that is because the cyber attackers saw no real monetary advantage of attacking mobile when compared to the huge PC market.


However, with more and more consumers switching over to mobile devices to make purchases and perform online banking, mobile is becoming a much more lucrative field for hackers. For organizations, there is every indication that these threats will continue to expand with the growth of mobile devices in the workplace.


In 2012, AVG's Threat Labs detected almost four million mobile threats. More than a year later, it's safe to say that those threats have long passed the 4-million mark. What follows is a look at the main reasons mobile devices are positioned to become the big, new security threat to individuals and organizations going forward — and what can be done to limit your risk.





Common Causes of Mobile Viruses/Hacks


There are several ways hackers can gain access to your mobile device.


Rogue Apps


Mobile users download 67 million mobile apps every day. That is a huge opportunity for hackers to create rogue apps — which impersonate legitimate ones — in order to get access to personal information or place malicious content, such as malware, on your device.


Internet Connections


Now that mobile devices can browse and download content from the web, it means that hackers can embed malicious content online and wait for you to download it onto your phone. Many of these dangerous files already exist online, which is why every PC comes with antivirus software that scans every single download.


Connecting to an Infected PC


Once again, this is a way for your phone to get a virus, and a cybercriminal doesn’t even have to get involved. Be cautious when connecting your smartphone to a computer via USB because if the computer has a bug, your phone is highly likely to get it too.


Message Attachments


Most of us are aware that hackers will send emails with viruses or malware in them, but on our phones we also have to worry about texts and video messages as well. Just as hackers frequently send emails through people’s contact lists so it appears like a friendly message, hackers will send texts disguised as a message from a contact.




Virtually every mobile device has bluetooth capabilities, but this is also an easy weakpoint for hackers to exploit. Using special software and antennae, hackers intercept the signals transmitted by the Bluetooth in order to access info on your phone and even to send texts or place phone calls.




While you won’t be exposed to malware or viruses via your voicemail, there are ways that criminals can gain access to your voicemail and listen to your private messages for valuable information. For example, many providers give users an external number to call in order to access their voicemail remotely. The first time you use this service the company has you use a default PIN. These PINs are fairly well known, so if you never went in and changed the PIN, it would be easy for someone to go in and access your messages.


Unsecured Wifi


Every time you connect to public Wifi, you risk having your information intercepted by a third party, yet 66 percent of mobile users continue to use public networks. While it may not matter if someone sees your Google search, using email or mobile banking puts you at risk of having your personal information stolen.





How To Combat These Threats


Steps mobile users can take to combat these threats include:


1. Use mobile virus protection software that will scan every app and file before it is fully downloaded and alert you of any threats.


2. Ensure your virus protection completes real-time and on-demand scans of USB connections and info passed between the device and a PC.


3. Replace default PINs with a secure PIN.


4. Secure your device — as well as apps with personal information, such as a banking app — with an adequate password.


5. Update your phone frequently, as a diversity of operating systems makes it difficult for hackers to launch massive attacks.


6. Do research on an app before downloading it.


7. As always, avoid clicking on any messages or links that look suspicious.




Minimize your mobile risk and click to learn more about Blue Coat's Mobile Device Security Service.