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Imagine your cell phone is a person. Now imagine your cell phone is hanging out with other phones. Phones from work. Phones from home. Phones in your social circle. How important is it that people do not hear or access important information your phone keeps inside? With remote and hybrid work on the rise and even a norm, these conversations between phones are more easily captured. And this is why mobile security needs to be a top priority, especially if you carry sensitive data, openly discuss crypto investments, have a high profile, or are a person of high net worth.
Hackers use personal data for identity theft, and keeping passwords on your phone means that you're making it easier for cybercriminals to steal from you. For instance, a recent study found that 66% of consumers store personal data on their cell phones, like email addresses, contact lists, birthdays, photos, and videos. Additionally, 23% of respondents also admitted storing the password on their phones.
This blog will go over the meaning of mobile security and what it entails.
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What is Mobile Security?
Mobile security is a broad term that includes any project or process related to protecting the data on mobile devices. Companies typically work on cell phone security to manage sensitive information. It includes providing security through encryption, secure browsing, and implementing specific control on mobile devices.
Mobile network security includes protecting data on the local device and endpoints connected to the device and network devices.
As mobile phones continue to be more popular than desktops, cybersecurity for mobile devices is becoming a more prevalent issue, especially with the increase in high-profile data breaches.
Why Is Mobile Security Important?
With data breaches on the rise and cybercriminals becoming more sophisticated, mobile security is a significant concern for businesses. And it's not just about protecting your company from attack - your employees are increasingly using their devices for work-related tasks (BYOD), creating a new attack vector for hackers to exploit.
Suppose you're leading a team, and your business depends on the data that they generate. In that case, you must educate them about mobile security and protect them from being hacked or having their confidential data leaked.
Mobile security is a measure necessary to protect against various threats that try to violate your privacy. A mobile phone can create countless opportunities for business growth. Having the best mobile security tools to protect your business ensures success for a business.
Another concern of mobile security is that people are not aware of the risks they are taking when they use their phones, which makes them unaware of the precautions they need to take. Mobile security affects your daily and personal life, but it can also affect your productivity or business success.
Here are a few statistics that make a case for taking mobile security seriously:
- A worldwide survey shows that 39% of employees said they use personal devices to access the company, and 36% do not use password protection on mobile devices.
- A survey also shows that 12% of mobile users become victims of mobile payment fraud attempts.
- 76% of employees believe their organization is more vulnerable to mobile phone attacks than a year ago.
Due to growing threats to mobile phones, organizations must invest in the security of their mobile phones and promote mobile safety practices for their employees.
Top Nine Mobile Security Breaches
Many firms pursue mobile efforts since research suggests increased mobility helps businesses enhance operations and efficiency.
On the other hand, increases in organizational mobility usually result in a spike in the number of smartphones accessing networks from afar. This implies many endpoints and risks to defend to keep your company safe from a security breach.
Mobile applications were another area that had trouble last year, while the world was focused on supply-chain breaches. Mobile applications will have over 200 billion downloads by 2022, creating a complicated attack surface. One-quarter of businesses surveyed by Verizon reported suffering a data breach due to mobile devices or IoT.
A review of the top mobile security breaches from 2021 provides insight into what to anticipate in 2022. The phone app exposures made the news, ranging from business heavyweights like Slack and Amazon Ring to CBP and US Customs.
This article will discuss the nine most highlighted and critical mobile security breaches that organizations encountered.
Slack Mobile Application Exposing User's Credentials
Slack is a popular workplace collaboration app with a daily user base of over 12 million people. Unfortunately, in 2021, the app exchanged more than just opinions. As revealed in January, a problem in its Android application logged clear-text usernames and passwords on smartphones. Exposed customers were instructed to reset their passwords and delete their app data records.
Amazon Ring App Data Breach
The Amazon Ring App had around 10 million users in 2020. A security issue in January 2021 revealed that the app was exposing the address and precise location of people who had been posted to it. Even though user postings are public, the app usually does not provide exact locations. The issue didn't show details to app users, but it did capture sensitive information such as the user's longitude, latitude, and residential address.
Android Apps Leaking Sensitive Data of Millions of Users
Since its launch, Google's play store has been bombarded with new apps. Developers from different countries introduce their apps to the play store, but only a few consider the security. So, what happens when app developers overlook communication security?
Among the most critical mobile breach stories of 2021, the buzz that the Android data leak received was uncanny. Around 13 prominent Android apps exposed the personal data of up to 100M users in April 2021. 3rd-party cloud services were not adequately secured, revealing personal information such as emails, text messages, credentials, and images.
Apple iMessage Zero-Day Affecting 900 Million Devices
Apple addressed a zero-day bug in iMessage in 2021. This bug compromised all of its 900M active users of Macbooks, Apple watches, iPhones, and iPads to malware from the NSO Group. Apple's zero-day incident is one of the greatest mobile thefts of the year. NSO took use of the flaw to snoop on political activists.
Remote Code Execution on ShareIt App
In February 2021, ZDNet revealed that the developers of the SHAREit app had overlooked a flaw that could be used to launch a malicious script on people's phones. The bug was eventually corrected by SHAREit, but not before the code was distributed to millions.
ParkMobile Breach Affecting 21 Million Users
KrebsOnSecurity discovered data of up to 21M users of a parking app on sale on a black market in 2021. ParkMobile's developers noticed that 3rd-party software had exposed personal information such as client email lists, contact information, and license plate numbers. For disclosing user data, ParkMobile is now facing a class-action suit.
Klarna Payment App Revealing User Balances
In May 2021, a security issue in Klarna's banking app created extensive customer anxiety. Clients of the application temporarily saw other users' bank details rather than their own. According to the Klarna revelation, data was cached abruptly due to a human error. The event happened shortly after Klarna received new financing of $639M.
COVID Passport App Exposing Users
Portpass, a Canadian COVID vaccination passport app, has had 650,000 users' personal information compromised by hackers. On its site, anybody can view profiles, and the smartphone app saves personal information in plaintext.
Passport Control Apps Leaking 10 Million Travelers' Data
As six US CBP smartphone passport check apps disclosed PII (Personally Identifiable Information), it compromised the personal details of up to 10M travelers. The CBP missed scanning 91 percent of application upgrades made between 2016 and 2019 for flaws, according to an analysis.
What to Expect in The Future?
Companies lost billions of dollars in income, repair costs, brand image damage, and more due to mobile breaches. Sadly, violations of this nature will persist through 2023.
Most of those aches and pains will be caused by unsafe coding methods and a lack of appropriate testing. By monitoring apps through the SDLC (software development life cycle) and discovering issues sooner, security teams can significantly minimize their risks. It will secure them from a significant mobile app intrusion in the future. It will also assist in tracking all mobile applications in production.
The key points we have learned from the breaches are:
- Developers should consider security while coding as their top priority.
- Network admins should secure the infrastructure to avoid loopholes in the system and potential cyber attacks like MiTM (Man in The Middle).
- End-users should get anti-malware and antivirus protection for their devices to secure them from malicious activities like data theft.
- End-users should read an app's privacy controls before installing it and limit its access to private data.
- End-users should not download any malicious apps on their phones.
- Data encryption is essential to avoid any critical private and corporate data leaks.
Eventually, the responsibility falls on everyone from top to bottom to take the necessary steps in securing mobile applications, data, and our privacy. Besides phone data security, your phone number security is just as important. Efani provides guaranteed protection from SIM swap and secures your phone number from hackers' attempts.
Most Common Mobile Security Threats
We live in a mobile-driven work culture where most of us depend on our smartphones for everything from internet banking to staying connected through social media. Enterprises are broadening work-from-home practices and including BYOD strategies for mobile devices to support the on-the-go workforce.
However, there is still a significant lack of protection against mobile security risks such as data theft, malware, and mobile devices' exploitation systems. Mobile devices now account for over 45% of all digital scams, from stolen passwords to phishing attacks.
We should be more vigilant about preventing cyberattacks on our smartphones. Fortunately, we have put together a list of top mobile security threats and mobile security tips to protect your mobile phones.
Mobile Adware and Spyware
Madware is the form of aggressive advertising that affects mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. The name, a combination of mobile and adware, was coined to describe intrusive ads. It's a script or program often installed on a smartphone when the end-user agrees to allow advertising for a free mobile application. More than 67% of the Google Play App Store free applications come with malware. This malware aims to collect your data and online activities to better target with advertising.
On top of that, some madware can act as spyware. Spyware monitors user behavior collects information about users' location and personal contacts, and spies on your internet usage. Spyware also makes unnecessary changes to your mobile device, such as:
- Replacing smartphone’s dial tone with an audio advertisement.
- Flooding the smartphone with mobile ads via text messages.
- Collect contact numbers and location details of the smartphone.
- Display unwanted advertising on the phone's notification bar and add icons or shortcuts on the phone's screen.
If left unchecked, these mobile security threats can compromise end-user to identity theft risks if the data collected by malware is exploited and sold.
Open Wi-Fi and Network Spoofing
Connecting to free Wi-Fi does not require a password or encryption. However, open or free Wi-Fi hotspots are known for "man-in-the-middle' attacks and similar malicious attacks where a cybercriminal intercepts and eavesdrops on a device's network traffic. Cybercriminals can create a fake Wi-Fi network to entice users to connect to it and steal users' data.
In some cases, the user doesn't even have to perform any action on the device for the attack. For instance, you connect your smartphone to an open network like a cafe or a coffee shop. Hackers can readily imitate (known as spoofing) - the identical Wi-Fi Service Set iDentities (SSID), which is the network's name. Hackers use the spoofing method to collect business information without being detected by the mobile device user.
Almost all smartphone applications collect data from your phone. The collected data may include your personal information like your name, date of birth, bank account information, credit card details, photos, and more. Not only that, your mobile phone activity and internet usage data are also collected on servers by application developers.
And if the server is hacked, hackers can easily steal all the data and use it for fraud.
Phishing is one of the most common access points to start an attack. Cybercriminals commonly use emails, voice calls, and text messages to lure their target into sharing the password, entice the target to click the link to download malware or share banking details.
In addition, hackers can use social engineering to research users' online activity as their next cyber-attack target. Hackers often use an approach known as spear phishing to look for crucial information like company information, where the user work, job status, and job history. This information provides hackers with an entry point to gain users' trust in sharing sensitive information.
If the cell phone is lost or gets into the wrong hands, the scammer can impersonate the authorized user to exploit users' data.
Poor Password Security
Many people often reuse passwords across multiple accounts. Cybercriminals can access all the charges associated with the leaked or stolen passwords. Not only that, many people save passwords on smartphones, emails, or web notes that hackers can easily hack.
Updating endpoints and application is necessary to protect your device from malware and other cyber threats. Replace mobile devices that are not up-to-date or too old to receive security updates to eliminate security vulnerabilities. Updates and patches are essential for mobile security, and unpatched devices and applications often contain vulnerabilities that attackers can exploit for personal gain.
Unauthorized Data Access
Hackers can easily forge or disable authentication with a PIN or password by accessing the mobile phone and its content. Mobile devices transfer data over wireless networks. In comparison to wired networks, wireless networks are less secure as they can leave non-encrypted information at risk of being compromised.
Mobile Application Security Threats
Application-specific threats occur when people download legitimate applications that leak data from their cell phones. Malware and Spyware are examples of application-based security threats.
Moreover, Malware attacks can happen and spread through web downloads, Bluetooth communications, and email services.
Network spoofing happens when cybercriminals set up fake access points and connections similar to WiFi networks (hidden traps) in high-traffic places, cafes, libraries, and airports. These connections are usually available to everyone for free as a Free WiFi connection to encourage consumers to connect.
Free hotspots or WiFi services often ask people to create an account to access free WiFi service. Because several users use the same email and password for multiple services, hackers can easily compromise and steal users' email, password, and other sensitive information.
Moreover, Cybercriminals can block traffic and steal private information using man-in-the-middle attacks (MitM).
Many Spying software or eavesdropping software can be installed or downloaded onto a device to eavesdrop, collect, and transfer private data to another phone or server. Successful eavesdropping attacks lead to loss of essential data, virus attacks, data breaches, and identity theft.
Aside from these mobile security risks, other threats associated with malicious apps download could cost a lot of money and cause personal and business information loss. Furthermore, attackers are increasingly using identity theft attacks to hijack online accounts and mobile phone accounts and can open new accounts without the victim's knowledge.
How To Ensure Mobile Security Against Cyber Threats
With consistent growth in mobile phone threats, businesses require comprehensive security solutions that protect smartphones from mobile security from malware and software vulnerabilities. Here is how you can protect your mobile phones:
- Install mobile threat detection tools or security software to protect your devices from cyber threats. Installing security software can also help detect threats.
- Data encryption is often enabled on most devices. In case it is not activated, you need to configure it. Data encryption protects your data from hackers by breaking it into code they don't recognize as it moves through different servers.
- Ensure preventive measures against phishing attacks on mobile phones. Use MTD tools to secure your device and users from identity theft. Mobile threat defense tools protect tools by detecting and analyzing devices using modern algorithms to block real-time threats.
- Enabling the remote wipe option lets you delete all the data from your phone, even if you don't have access to your phone. The remote wipe feature comes in handy in protecting mobile data if your phone is lost.
- Set up a unique and strong password for your mobile phones for all online accounts. Use multi-factor authentication and use password management software to create and store unique passwords for each account.
- Use a VPN as it gives users a secure phone connection to a private server instead of sharing it with everyone on the public network. We would suggest using Efani services as it offers subscribers secure protection against mobile network attacks by removing vulnerabilities and providing a private VPN with advanced encryption.
- Make sure to update your smartphone's operating system and update applications regularly. Avoid installing apps that ask for too many permissions to your mobile data.
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Top 5 Mobile Security Trends in 2023
According to Investopedia, Phishing is a method of identity theft that relies on individuals unwittingly volunteering personal details or information that can be used for nefarious purposes. It is often carried out by creating a fraudulent website, email, or text appearing to represent a legitimate firm.
Mobile phishing attacks keep growing exponentially and will become more sophisticated in 2022. It lures users to click on malicious web links or infected files or click on corrupt emails, to download malware from email attachments.
Phishing hackers sometimes employ bogus campaigns to trick unsuspecting customers into updating their information or entering a prize that the bank or any financial institution supposedly hosts. When customers visit a fraudulent website, they supply personal information such as their ID, online banking password and details, credit card number, and even the CVV 2. These details are what fraudsters use to make online purchases without the customer's knowledge.
Instinct is enough to tell anyone that requesting private information when confronted via email is a clear case of phishing attempts and scams. As an existing bank customer, Banks will protect your personal information and never send you an email requesting this information. Another safety measure to employ is to hover your mouse on any link to make sure and double-check the website URL-A lock icon should be before the name, and it should begin with the letters "HTTPS."
Read More About Email Phishing
The year 2021 witnessed a substantial surge in malware attacks, with hackers concentrating their efforts on smartphones, employing strategies such as surveillance and malicious advertisements to their advantage. According to ZDNet, one of the authorities in publication, cyberattacks on mobile devices climbed by 50 percent in the first half of 2021 compared to the previous year's same period. The surge resulted from an increase in the number of malicious software attacks. As a result, hackers are more willing than ever to steal payment details, misuse login credentials, and withdraw funds from their victims' accounts.
Vishing is a derivative of two words- voice and phishing. In this context, it refers to the type of scam that entails making a bogus phone call utilizing information that has been gathered earlier online.
Vishing is in two ways. The first step is when cybercriminals gather private information via email or a fraudulent phishing website. However, these cybercriminals can not use this information alone; they need the SMS password or digital OTP ( one-time pin) to carry out and validate their fraudulent activities.
This is the point at which the second step occurs. Cybercriminals then call customers on their cell phones and pose as employees of the financial institution they represent. The cybercriminal attempts to persuade the customer to reveal the SMS password or digital token required to approve transactions by sending out terrifying texts.
If this happens, these types of details should never be mentioned to anyone by a customer. The customer should hang up immediately and contact their bank to report what has occurred. The bank will never contact customers to get sensitive and secret information such as passwords and pins.
In the same way, they use phone conversations to trick to deceive customers. In the case of vishing, they can use messages to trick people via Telegram, WhatsApp, or text messages. Smishing got its name from SMS and phishing.
This threat occurs when a customer receives a text message, purportedly from their bank, informing them that a questionable purchase is happening with their credit card information. The text message instructs the recipient to contact their bank and includes a fictitious phone number. As soon as the customer returns the phone call, the cybercriminal, posing as the bank, seeks private information from him to cancel the purchase. Occasionally, the letter will also include a link to a bogus website to solicit sensitive information from the recipient.
The best way to avoid smishing is to never pay attention to messages that need your data, a phone call, or a specific call to action. Make sure to pay great attention to any unusual phone numbers you receive, and remember that your financial institutions' only official phone number to contact will be on their official website or their official handles of social media channels.
Mobile smishing surged by over 700 percent in the first six months of 2021, likely resulting from more customers purchasing online due to the COVID-19 global epidemic.
Mobile interception technology is the storage, recording, tracking, and interception of cellular communications such as phone calls, internet usage, SMS, and other text messaging forms. Government and law enforcement agencies can use Mobile interception to gather information on terrorists or criminals. However, scammers have been employing this form available for illegal purposes. I recommend using unencrypted mobile messaging apps to discuss work-related information to prevent bad actors from interfering with crucial business discussions and documents.
Mobile Security Tips to Keep Your Smartphones Secure
As cyberattacks continue to grow on smartphones, it's time to take mobile security seriously. As discussed earlier, mobile phones are equally vulnerable to malware, web attacks, social engineering threats, physical theft, and other malicious attacks like PCs and other devices.
Individual and business owners should be responsible for the corporate security of mobile phones and should enforce mobile security awareness and practices. You can use many of the security measures described in this post as proactive and get in with Efani for mobile security services.
Cell phone security requires a multi-level security approach and investment in business solutions. Organizations approach mobile security differently and implement the one that works best for their business.
Here are other security measures you can take to secure your cell phone:
- If possible, try to avoid storing sensitive data on cell phones. You can minimize data exposure by using your mobile phone's built-in encryption capabilities.
- Passwords and PINS are one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect your mobile phone from unauthorized usage. Lock your phone with a strong password by using a combination of special characters, numbers, and letters to create a strong password.
- Leverage different biometrics authentication methods such as face recognition, fingerprint lock, or voice recognition for mobile phone access.
- If your mobile is stolen or lost, use the remote access option to delete and transfer the data to a secure location. Most mobile devices come with a remote device access feature, and employees who use personal devices for corporate work should learn how to use them.
- Install additional security management software on your mobile devices. A wide range of security programs is available for smartphones and tablets that typically offer the following features: data back, data encryption, firewall, antivirus, and authentication.
In addition to these security measures, private users and business owners should invest in mobile security services such as Efani. We at Efani offer very secure mobile services for personal and business users. The mobile service is designed to meet a mobility market with critical security needs. Efani replaces the current mobile services for subscribers with our own encrypted SIM card and becomes their carrier.
Mobile security is a necessary aspect of life in this new digital age. By fully understanding the risks and taking appropriate precautions, we can secure our mobile devices and ourselves on the internet. You can implement many kinds of cyber security methods and strategies, from firewalls to antivirus software to online resources that allow you to report any suspicious activity.
If you want to keep up with your mobile phone security, you can contact one of our representatives at Efani.