As Mobile Malware Growth Begins to Slow, its Nastiness only Grows

by Matt Klassen on November 6, 2015

Let’s start with the good news: According to Blue Coat cybersecurity firm, the growth of mobile malware has slowed in 2015, a positive bit of news given the exponential growth we’ve seen with that particular bit of cybercrime lately. But of course with such good news comes a healthy dose a bad: While the volume of instances of mobile malware attacks are dropping, the increase in the severity, nay, the downright nastiness, of the attacks that do happen is truly alarming.

“Ransomware is getting more evil, more robust, similar to the evolution it followed on the desktop,” said Chris Larsen, a senior malware researcher at Blue Coat.

Simply put, while mobile malware has started to plateau this isn’t because cybercriminals are turning their attention elsewhere or are stymied in their efforts, quite the opposite actually. In fact it seems that malware has levelled off because cybercriminals are becoming increasingly successful with the methods they’re currently using, honing their tactics with ever more devastating results.

The key problem in mobile security, as it has always been, is the combined issue of the BYOD movement coupled with general user/employee apathy or ignorance regarding malware and network vulnerabilities.

“The challenge for security leaders is that no matter how much you train your staff about security, there always seems to be that one employee who downloads a porn app directly from an untrusted third-party website to their phone,” said Ken Westin, a senior security analyst at Tripwire.

“To our horror, those individuals are then connecting their devices to the corporate WiFi or accessing corporate email and documents from that same infected phone,” he said.

As always, the recommendation stays the same. “The standard advice is don’t jailbreak or root your phone, get your apps from the Apple Store or Google Play, and don’t live inChinaorRussia,” Blue Coat’s Larsen said. “And don’t surf for porn,” he added. “We’ve seen porn sites linked to a lot of ransomware.”

Not only that, but Blue Coat has identified that the number of potential end point vulnerabilities will only continue to increase as wearables become ever more popular.

“Enterprises have enough problems handling regular computing assets — laptops and things like that — from a cyberdefense perspective,” said Ben Johnson, chief security strategist at Bit9 + Carbon Black.

“Now you start factoring in watches and other devices that everyone who walks off the street can have and it’s going to be a nightmare,” he told TechNewsWorld in an interview. “It increases the surface area for attacks tremendously.”

All that to say again, while it might seem like positive news that the volume of malware attacks has levelled off in 2015, consider that more as a sign of the success of the current methods being deployed by cybercriminals, and not one that things are getting any better for mobile users.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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