Three mobile security threats to take seriously in 2020

Three mobile security threats to take seriously in 2020

Cyber threats are becoming an increasingly severe thorn in the side for both businesses and individuals. By 2021, cybercrime damages are predicted to

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Cyber threats are becoming an increasingly severe thorn in the side for both businesses and individuals. By 2021, cybercrime damages are predicted to cost the world $6 trillion annually, while the potential threats to privacy are equally huge. Considering that 60% of online fraud is executed through mobile devices, focusing on mobile cybersecurity is clearly a smart move. So, as we enter 2020, which threats should you be taking most seriously?

1.    App Malware

One threat you should be aware of is malware, with the number of mobile malware attacks rising by over 50% in 2019. Many of these threats arrive via downloaded apps, which are repackaged as legitimate apps to increase the odds of a user downloading it and inadvertently infecting their device. In June, a fake WhatsApp program available in Google Play was downloaded more than one million times before Google removed it from the Play store.

As pointed out in Gartner’s 2019 Market Guide for Mobile Threat Defense solutions, this is not a problem exclusive to Google’s app store, however, as even the robust iOS ecosystem has also been infiltrated. As recently as October 2019, 18 malware apps were discovered on the iOS App Store by mobile security company Wandera.

There are numerous ways you can protect yourself against malware attacks, one of which is to thoroughly research each app before downloading to check it’s legitimate. You should take steps such as verifying the developer’s identity, reading reviews, and seeing if there’s anything amiss in the app description. Another useful measure is to install malware protection to work on known threats, including when safe apps have been compromised, like the time WhatsApp was used to install spyware onto people’s phones. You should also regularly update your operating system to give your phone the best protection possible and refrain from sideloading apps from unofficial stores.

2.    Wifi Interference

Your data is only as secure as the network you’re using, and public wifi is often unsecured and unencrypted. One of the main threats is the ease in which hackers can access your personal data via man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks. This is where hackers set up a network with a similar name to that of a legitimate hotspot. Once you connect to this, cybercriminals are able to listen in to conversations, intercept data and infect your phone with malware.

The most obvious way to protect yourself against wifi interference is to avoid using public wifi where possible, especially with the advent of 5G and the opportunity to enjoy faster cellular network connections than ever before. That said, this could massively eat into your data allowance and hit your wallet hard. So, if you really do need to connect to a public wifi network, only use well-known ones, while maintaining caution around evil twin hotspots. Downloading a Virtual Private Network (VPN) on your device is also a smart idea, as this will connect you to the internet via one of the VPN’s servers, thus encrypting your data.

3.    Mobile Phishing

Another huge threat comes from mobile phishing, with 91% of all cyberattacks starting this way. This is a form of social engineering which typically involves cybercriminals purporting to be a reputable individual or company, targeting individuals via methods like fake websites, pop-ups, and even phone calls. These dupe the recipient into either sending personal information like passwords or credit card details or opening malware-ridden files. One common occurrence of this is when a cybercriminal poses as somebody from the victim’s bank with a message prompting them to act, such as to click on a link to complete a rejected payment. This then takes the victim to an authentic-looking website where they’re asked to input their banking information, enabling this to be harvested.

There are several ways you can safeguard yourself against mobile phishing. One is to only use official apps, such as official banking apps for online banking. Another is to look out for suspicious signs like incorrect grammar, an offer that’s too good to be true, and if the company or individual in question has never contacted you like this before. You should also always check URLs to see if they’re legitimate—there are plenty of sites and tools that can do this for you, with some scanning sites for threats like malware too. Other tips include avoiding browsers without security features and downloading antivirus software that will warn you about potentially insecure links.