As smartphones increasingly become the primary computing device for many users, they also present a greater risk for certain cyber attacks. According to aÂ recent report from ESET, ransomware attacks on Android devices rose more than 50% in the past year.
For those unfamiliar, ransomware is a form of malware wherein an attacker encrypts a user’s data and holds it hostage until they pay a monetary ransom. Ransomware has been an actively growing threat for quite some time, with many new tools emerging to counteract it.
The reason behind the growth in Android ransomware is actually quite simple. As more users rely on their phone as a daily computing device, they are storing more sensitive data there, which can be more easily exploited for ransom, the report stated.
According to the report, techniques such as lockscreen ransomware and crypto-ransomware, typically used in desktop attacks, are being adapted specifically for Android users. “ESET researchers have also seen cybercriminals put increased effort into keeping a low profile by encrypting and burying the malicious payload deeper into the infected apps,” the report also noted.
Android ransomware, and other forms of malware affecting the mobile OS, usually spreads by pretending to be another applicationâ€”such as a trending gameâ€”to get the user to download it, anÂ ESET white paperÂ said. However, researchers also noticed a growing trend of attacks coming through email, using social engineering to try and get users to click a link and download an infected app.
Once a device is infected, the white paper said, the attacker can wipe the user’s device, send a message on their behalf, or perform a host of other malicious actions. Some versions of the ransomware even attempt to convince the user that their device was locked by law enforcement for illegal activity.
Geographically speaking, these attacks are growing among users in the U.S. and Asia, the report said.
Being that ransomware is a form of malware, there are a few ways to deal with it. First off, it’s important to make sure that the device’s settings are properly configured,Â especially those that manage app store downloads. There are also some other steps one can take if the device is infected, includingÂ booting in safe mode to remove the malware.
This latest report follows a host of other bad news for malware in Android devices. In mid-2016, a Kaspersky Lab reportÂ claimed that Android ransomware had quadrupled over the previous year. Additionally, a malware version calledÂ HummingBadÂ was reported to have affected millions of devices.
This article originally appeared on TechRepublic.
At Tech Orchard, weâ€™ve spoken with clients and written about the importance of taking precautionary security measures to protect mobile devices. For most users, the first step is setting a password to lock their smartphone or tablet. PINs and thumbprints are options available on devices from various manufacturers, while pattern lock is widely used as a mechanism for authentication and authorization on Android devices. Unfortunately for pattern lock users, this security method may be anything but secure.
Researchers from Lancaster University in the United Kingdom presented findings at The Network and Distributed System Security Symposium 2017Â of a study indicating that video and computer vision algorithm software can typically crack a pattern lock in fewer than five attempts. Whatâ€™s worse, it can do so without even seeing the screen itself. Tests of video-based attacks were successful in reconstructing Android lock patterns from video footage filmed using a mobile phone camera 95% of the time, and 97.5% of the time when more complex patterns were used.
Using footage of a user inputting his or her Android pattern lock, computer vision algorithm then analyzed the fingertip movements to infer a pattern. Researchers tested 120 patterns collected from 215 users and found that more complex patterns are even more vulnerable because they limit the number of working possibilities. AÂ Phys.org articleÂ detailing the research indicated that mobile video can produce accurate results from up to 2.5 meters (or just over 8 feet) away, or up to 9 meters (nearly 30 feet) away using SLR footage. Though researchers only discussed these two types of video, the application for security camera footage could indicate the potential for more serious, widespread threats in the future.
The research paper suggests that users consider covering their hands when entering their pattern lock to avoid making their fingertip patterns traceable, or to set the screen brightness to change quickly to throw off any recording.
â€śSince our threat model is common in day-to-day life, this paper calls for the community to revisit the risks of using Android pattern lock to protect sensitive information,â€ť researchers stated.
Ultimately, Android users may want to consider an alternative form of device lock, or implement two-factor authentication to better protect themselves from potential adversaries. Businesses leveraging enterprise mobility may want to keep these recommendations in mind when developing policies and procedures for employees who are using mobile devices as part of their jobs. If you need help identifying ways to keep your organizationâ€™s devices safe regardless of operating system or device type, contact our team for help.
After thorough research performed by our mobile threat prevention (MTP) partner, Check Point, a new and alarming type of malware campaign has been identified. Known as Gooligan, this malware is used to generate ad revenue on the Android platform. Check Point noted that as of the end of November, Gooligan had breached the security of more than one million Google accounts, with an additional 13,000 devices being impacted each day.
From data mining and machine learning to VR (virtual reality) and AI (artificial intelligence), the tech industry is no stranger to its fair share of buzzwords. One that has dominated headlines throughout 2016 is IoT, or the Internet of Things. To put it simply, the IoT refers to the flourishing ecosystem of devices connected to the Internet that can generate, consume and exchange data via embedded sensors. Mobile devices, our focus here at Tech Orchard, are a critical part of this ecosystem.
Each year, the Information Security Forum, a nonprofit association that researches and analyzes security and risk management issues, releases its Threat Horizon report. The document provides a two-year, forward-looking projection of the biggest security threats we can expect to face. Earlier this year, the report detailed the top nine threats to watch for from 2016 to 2018. Letâ€™s take a moment to remind ourselves of these threats and how to address them.
Whether youâ€™re an avid â€śFrom the Orchardâ€ť reader or simply view our blog from time to time, itâ€™s likely youâ€™ve noticed that we do our best to keep you out in front of major security threats and aware of ways to help combat them in your organization. While itâ€™s probably no surprise that corporate-provided and BYOD (bring your own device) mobile assets pose a substantial risk to your company data, itâ€™s important to understand that a balance between technology solutions and human solutions is the best way to protect your organization from harm.