Now that our mobile devices are the center of our social, financial, and communication life, hackers are able to make good money off of them.
Threat actors are always developing new ways to hack smartphones, whether you use an Apple iOS or a Google Android model.
This covers everything from common spam and harmful links shared on social media to malware that may track you, compromise your banking applications, or infect your device with ransomware.
THE PRIMARY THREATS TO IOS AND ANDROID MOBILE SECURITY IN 2022
Phishing and smishing
When hackers send you phony and fraudulent messages, it is phishing. Cybercriminals try to trick you into handing up your account credentials for a bank, PayPal, social network, email, and other services in exchange for personal information, clicking on harmful links, installing and unintentionally running malware on your computer, or other actions.
Phishing attacks on mobile devices may be sent via whatever channel a PC can, including social network posts and email. However, smishing, or phishing attempts delivered by SMS messages, may also affect mobile devices.
Whether you are using an iOS or an Android smartphone, phishing may happen to either. All mobile devices are created equal in the eyes of fraudsters and online criminals.
Your best line of defense is to never open links in emails or texts unless you are certain that they are legitimate.
Physically protecting our mobile devices is an important security practice that many of us overlook. We are not allowed to utilize a PIN, pattern, or biometric verification like a fingerprint or retina scan since doing so leaves our device open to hacking. Additionally, your phone might be stolen if you leave it unsecured.
Your greatest line of protection is to secure your phone with a strong password or PIN number, at the very least, to prevent unauthorized access to your accounts and data should it fall into the wrong hands.
When consumers need to exchange their SIM and phone numbers between operators or devices, telecom companies legitimately offer a service known as SIM swapping or SIM porting. SIM hijacking, also known as SIM switching or SIM porting, is the misuse of this service.
A consumer would typically phone their telecom provider and ask to switch. But an attacker may impersonate you and trick customer care agents into handing up your number by using social engineering and the personal information they learn about you, including your name, address, and contact information.
A cybercriminal will be able to divert your calls and messages to a device they possess if their assault is effective. This is significant because it also implies that any two-factor authentication (2FA) codes used to secure your banking, email, and social media accounts, among others, will also end up in their possession.
Since SIM hijacking requires physical effort and data acquisition, it is typically a targeted attack. They can, however, have severe effects on your privacy and the safety of your online accounts if they are successful.
Your best line of defense is to safeguard your data using a variety of cybersecurity best practices to prevent social engineering attacks. Consider requesting a “Do not port” notation be added to your file from your telecom provider (Except when you go in person).
Nuisanceware, premium service dialers, bitcoin miners
Your mobile device may potentially be infected with nuisanceware and malicious software, which may drive it to make calls or send messages to premium numbers.
In contrast to iOS, Android ecosystems are more likely to have spyware called nuisanceware, which causes your phone to behave in a grating way. Usually not harmful, but nevertheless annoying and waste on your battery, nuisanceware may display pop-up advertisements, interfere with your tasks by interrupting you with advertisements or survey requests, or load sites in your mobile device without your consent.
Premium service dialers are worse than nuisanceware in terms of their ability to generate ad impressions through users. Apps may include secret features that allow the attacker to get paid while you pay for these “services” by secretly enrolling you in premium, paid services, sending messages, or making calls.
Some applications may stealthily use your device’s processing power to mine cryptocurrencies.
The easiest way to protect yourself is to only download programs from reputable app stores and carefully consider which rights you’re giving them.
Hotel rooms and coffee cafes both have open and insecure Wi-Fi networks. Although they are designed to provide customer service, their openness makes them vulnerable to assault.
In particular, unsecured Wi-Fi connections might make your phone or computer vulnerable to Man-in-the-Middle (MiTM) attacks. Your information will be stolen, malware payloads will be sent to your device, and it’s possible that your device may be taken over if an attacker intercepts the conversation between your handset and browser.
Additionally, ‘honeypot’ Wi-Fi hotspots occasionally appear. These are public Wi-Fi hotspots that hackers have set up under the impression of being free and genuine locations in order to carry out MiTM.
Your best line of defense is to use mobile networks rather than any public Wi-Fi. At the very least, think about utilizing a virtual private network if you must connect to them (VPN).
Surveillance, spying, and stalkerware
There are different types of surveillanceware, spyware, and stalkerware. Cyberattackers will utilize spyware, which is frequently generic, to steal data such as personally identifiable information and financial information. However, surveillanceware and stalkerware are typically more individualized and focused; for instance, in the event of domestic violence, a spouse may install surveillance software on your phone to monitor your contacts, phone calls, GPS position, and who and when you are interacting with.
An antivirus check should take care of generic spyware, and while there is no silver bullet for surveillanceware or stalkerware, you should keep an eye out for any strange or odd behavior on your computer. Put your physical safety first if you believe you are being watched. To locate and delete stalkerware on your phone, go to our tutorial.
Both PCs and mobile devices can be affected by ransomware. Ransomware will try to encrypt your files and folders, locking you out of your phone, and then demand payment through a threatening landing page, usually in cryptocurrency. The two best examples are Koler and Cryptolocker.
Ransomware is frequently used as a payload on rogue websites or in third-party software. For instance, you may see a pop-up asking you to download an app that might be used to encrypt your phone in a matter of minutes. This app could be anything from a software cracker to a pornographic viewer.
Your best line of defense is to keep your phone’s firmware up to date, enable the basic security features on your Android or iOS device, and avoid downloading software from sources other than authorized repositories.
Trojans, financial malware
There are innumerable variations of mobile spyware, but many are stopped in their tracks by Google and Apple’s core safeguards. Trojans top the list of malware families, which you should be wary of.
Trojans are types of malware that are created with the intention of stealing data and making money. Drinik, MaliBot, and EventBot are examples of mobile variations.
Users often download malware themselves, which may be disguised as trustworthy and benign software or service. On your phone, though, they overlay a banking app’s display and collect the login information you provide. The attacker can use this information to steal money from your bank account after it is transmitted to them. Additionally, certain variations may intercept 2FA verification codes.
Most financial trojans target Android mobile devices. iOS variations are less common, however, strains like XCodeGhost are still around.
Keep your phone up to date with the newest firmware, enable your Android or iOS handset’s basic security features, and avoid downloading apps from sources other than approved repositories. Stop using financial applications, turn off your internet connection, do a personal check, and run an antivirus scan if you think your phone has been compromised.
Mobile device management exploits
Solutions for mobile device management (MDM) are professional tools made for the workforce. MDM capabilities may expand a company’s network security solutions and scans to every endpoint device, block harmful links and websites, and provide safe ways for employees to access corporate resources and applications.
The danger of data loss, monitoring, or hijacking applies to any mobile endpoint device, though, if the central MDM system is breached or otherwise compromised.
The nature of MDM solutions robs end users of control, which is your strongest line of protection. As a result, you cannot provide MDM compromise protection. You can, however, keep your device updated, practice good security hygiene, and avoid using personal applications or information on work computers.
How can I physically protect my device?
The entry point to your smartphone, data, images, sensitive papers, and apps is your lock screen. Therefore, maintaining its security is crucial.
Take a look at these options on Android:
- Swipe, pattern, PIN, password, and biometric checks using your face or fingerprints are all available as screen locks.
- When you have your phone with you, a smart lock keeps it unlocked, and you select what circumstances are safe.
- Automatic factory reset: Wipes your phone after 15 unsuccessful unlock attempts
- Even when your phone is locked, you may choose what notifications and content are displayed.
- Lockdown mode is available starting with Android 9.0.
- Locate, secure, or delete your misplaced device with Find My Device.For iOS devices, see:
- Set a passcode on your smartphone to unlock it.
- Biometric technology may be used to unlock devices, launch apps, and complete financial transactions.
- Locate, track, and disable your stolen iPhone using Find My iPhone.
- Apple released a sneak peek of its own lockdown mode in July. The next feature, dubbed “extreme” protection for a select group of customers, would enhance security for harmful links and connections as well as wired connections when an iPhone is locked.What should I look out for as symptoms of a malware infection?
If you discover that your iOS or Android device is acting strangely, you could have been hacked or have been infected with malware.
Things to be wary of include:
- Battery life drain – Batteries deteriorate over time, particularly if you don’t let your phone go completely flat every now and again or if you’re regularly using high-power mobile applications. On the other hand, if your phone suddenly gets hot and starts to lose battery very rapidly, it can be that harmful software and apps are using your resources.
- Unexpected behavior – If the behavior of your smartphone changes and you’ve just added new applications or services, something may not be right.
- Unknown apps – Software that appears unexpectedly on your device, especially if you have permitted the download of apps from unknown developers or have a jailbroken smartphone, might be malware or surveillance software installed without your knowledge or approval.
- A symptom that malicious software is meddling with your device and data is when your browser is hijacked, your search engine changes, pop-up advertisements appear on websites, and you wind up on pages you didn’t want to.
Unexpected bills –
- Threat actors run premium number scams and services to make false money. Unexpected charges, calls, or texts to premium numbers might indicate that you have received one of these threats.
- Service disruption – The possibility of SIM hijacking is quite real. Typically, this is a targeted assault with a specific objective, like taking your cryptocurrencies or getting access to your online bank account. Your phone service cutting off unexpectedly is the first indication of an assault, and this shows that your phone number has been changed. A SIM switch may be detected by a loss of signal, an inability to make calls, or a notification that your call options are limited to emergency calls only. Additionally, you could get email reminders when your account has to be reset or notifications when a new device has been added to your current services.What about Pegasus and government-grade malware?
Malware designed for businesses and governments occasionally makes news. Pegasus and Hermit are two well-known variations that are employed by governments and law enforcement to spy on everyone from journalists to attorneys and activists.In June 2022, Google Threat Analysis Group (TAG) researchers issued a warning on Hermit, an advanced version of iOS and Android spyware that is now in circulation and is abusing zero-day vulnerabilities.Every aspect of a victim’s digital life, including their calls, messages, logs, images, and GPS position, is captured by the spyware, which seeks to root devices.
Yet, unless you are a high-profile person of interest to a nation prepared to go to these lengths, the probability of you being targeted by these pricey, paid-for malware programs is minimal. Phishing, general malware, or, regrettably, friends and relatives who are deploying stalkerware against you are much more likely to target you.
What should I do if I think my Android or iOS phone is compromised?
You should act quickly to preserve your privacy and security if you believe your Android or iOS device has been infected with malware or has been hacked in any other way. Consider the following actions:
Run a malware scan
- As updates frequently include patches for security vulnerabilities that can be used in attacks or the propagation of malware, you should make sure your device is running the most recent version of its operating system and firmware. Users can get security protection from Google and Apple, but it wouldn’t hurt to use a specialized antivirus program. Avast, Bitdefender, and Norton are available options. Even using only the free versions of these applications is still preferable to doing nothing.
Delete suspicious apps
- Even if uninstalling unusual apps isn’t always a good idea, you should eliminate any programs you don’t use or recognize. For nuisance software, for instance, removing the app may be sufficient to return your phone to regular operation. Additionally, you should refrain from installing apps from unreliable third-party developers who do not work for Google Play or the Apple Store.
- You should sometimes check the permission settings for the applications on your mobile device. Consider revoking them or removing the app altogether if they seem excessive for the app’s features or utility. Remember that some developers, particularly those working in the Android ecosystem, will publish useful tools and applications on Google Play only to later repurpose them for harmful purposes.
In other words, reputable programs aren’t necessarily what they seem to be, and things might suddenly alter. For instance, in 2021, a well-known barcode scanner developer released a rogue upgrade that allowed him to instantly take over millions of devices.
Tighten up communication channels
- You should never connect to an open, public Wi-Fi network. Stick to mobile networks instead, and disable Bluetooth, GPS, and any other capabilities that might broadcast your data if you don’t need them.
- Premium service dialers – Go through your applications and eliminate anything suspect if you have just received unexpected invoices. Additionally, you can contact your telecom company and urge them to restrict premium SMS and phone lines
- If you have lost access to your smartphone due to mobile ransomware, you have a number of solutions. Cut off any internet and other connections, including any wired ties to other devices. If you were make aware of the ransomware before your device was encrypted and a ransom letter was shown. Then, restart your phone in Safe Mode. Before any serious harm takes place, you might be able to remove the problematic software, perform an antivirus scan, and clean up. Your options are more constraine if your phone is locked because getting rid of the spyware only solves a portion of the issue.You can attempt utilizing a decryption tool like those mentioned by the No More Ransom project if you are aware of what ransomware version is on your device. Additionally, if you give Crypto Sheriff information, researchers will attempt to identify the kind of virus you’re dealing with without charge.
In the worst-case situation, a factory reset could be require. While ransomware can’t spread further once it’s been removed, encrypted files cannot be decrypt or restore. If you’ve regularly backed up your data, you can recover your device after a reset.
Keep in mind that paying a ransom does not ensure that your data will be unlock and given back to you.
- It may be quite challenging to deal with stalkerware or surveillanceware when you know or believe you have been target. If you have any basic, generic spyware on your device, it should be detect and removed by Google, Apple, or a specialize antivirus program. However, what if you try to delete a stalkerware software from your phone while your boyfriend or another close friend is keeping an eye on you?
- They will either receive a direct alarm in such a situation or become aware since they are no longer receiving your information.If removing these applications puts your physical safety in danger, you shouldn’t try it. In fact, some commercially accessible malware may harm a phone so badly that the operator can still remotely reinstall it, thus the only true choice is to dispose of the device (or keep it for law enforcement purposes).Make contact with a support group, think about using a burner phone if you can, and maintain your physical safety as much as you can.
- If you believe you have been SIM-swappe. You only have a very small window of time to reverse the situation. The first thing you should do is phone your telecom provider and request a speedy restoration of service. However, as we all know, you may end up waiting an excruciatingly long period on line.
Visit your carrier in-person at the shop if you can.No one is immune to the possibility of SIM swaps. Customer service agents might not have receive training on how to spot SIM hijacking, and hackers might have access to enough of your personal data to easily pass as you. Consider connecting your important “hub” accounts, financial services, and cryptocurrency wallets to a number that isn’t associate with you publicly in order to reduce the danger in the first place. If your personal or business numbers are hack. there are fewer prospects for theft with a basic pay-as-you-go number.