Ransomware drives mobile malware worries in 2014, report finds

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27 January 2015

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Mobile malware and ransomware threats grew substantially in 2014 while adware prevalence fell dramatically, according to a report from mobile security specialists Lookout.

Ransomware, which involves users being locked out of their devices in order to extort money, had several of the top mobile threats in the US, UK and Germany, including ScareMeNot and ScarePakage.

Similarly, as this publication has reported, the sophistication of mobile threats is continually rising. One example, which thankfully ended in failure, was of compromised mobile devices for cryptocurrency mining.

The top threat to US users was NotCompatible, which was first uncovered by Lookout and is a piece of malware which is resilient to network based blocking and detection by surreptitiously acting as a network proxy. For the UK it was SMSCapers, a pornographic app which charges users without clear notification, and in France it was Tornika, a Trojan disguised as a media player. Interestingly, malware encounter rate increased in the US (7% in 2014, 4% in 2013) but went down in France and the UK.

The report authors argue necessity was the mother of invention in creating more sophisticated mobile attacks, after operators clamped down on premium rate SMS abuse, which while an easy win for hackers, is also easy to counter attack and block.

“The apparent success of these threat countermeasures in 2014 is a double-edged sword,” the report notes. “While it seems to have lowered threat encounter rates in certain geographies, it also seems to have driven attackers toward developing more insidious threats like ransomware.

The authors continue: “The individual impact of premium-rate SMS abuse is a handful of nominal charges to a victim’s monthly bill. The individual impact of a ransomware threat like ScarePakage, however, is the complete loss of device functionality and potential mental anguish from false criminal accusations, as well as substantial financial loss if a victim elects to pay the ransom.”

Mike Raggo, security evangelist at EMM provider MobileIron, described mobile as a “perfect breeding ground” for malicious attacks in 2015. Christy Wyatt, CEO and president of Good Technology, told this publication her belief that while 2014 will go down as the year of the cyber attack, it was only the tip of the iceberg.

Source – http://www.appstechnews.com/news/2015/jan/26/ransomware-drives-mobile-malware-worries-2014-report-finds/

 

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