5 myths about mobile security and their realities

Today smartphones have become one of the most significant aspects of our lives, omnipresent even! In today’s era smartphones are rapidly replacing computers in the sense that most tasks can easily be performed on smartphones, rather than carrying around bulky devices such as PCs and laptops. We use smartphones to check our email, shop around, utilize social media, and do a lot more.

For every purpose, we have to install the attributed application in our smartphones. Generally, when consumers/users install the apps for their use they provide all permission access because they are not aware of the threats to the application. So, it’s a default mindset that the security risks that come with mobile devices are not applicable to them and their smartphones won’t be affected.

What is a Mobile Security Threat?

Mobile security threats are attacks that are intended to compromise or steal sensitive data from smartphones.

Major Threats to Mobile Apps

  • **Excessive App Permissions**

The CEO of app dome says, that nowadays, hackers can easily find an insecure mobile app and use that insecure app to make larger attacks or steal data, digital wallets, backend details, and other sensitive information directly from the app. App permissions determine an app’s functionality and access to a user’s device and features.

For example, when your user visits Google Play or the App Store to download apps that look okay, the apps ask for a list of permissions before the users are allowed to install them. These permissions generally require some kind of access to files or folders on the smartphone. As per a survey 75% of users just glance at the list of permissions and agree without reviewing them in detail.

  • **Social Engineering**

Social engineering attacks are when a malicious actor sends fraudulent emails (phishing attacks) or text messages (smishing attacks) to your employees in an effort to trick them into handing over sensitive information such as their passwords or installing malware onto their devices

  • **Unpatched Operating Systems**

Unpatched or older operating systems (OS) generally contain vulnerabilities that have been exploited by an attacker, and mobile devices with old Operating System remain vulnerable to attacks. Manufacturer updates often include critical security updates to fix the vulnerabilities that may be actively exploited.

  • **Unsecure Wireless Connection**

An unsecured network most often refers to a free wi-fi (wireless) network, like at a coffeehouse or a retail store. It means that there’s no authentication mechanism to connect to the network, so you and anyone else can use it. Cybercriminals can intercept traffic and steal private information using methods such as man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks, and also extract the user’s sensitive personal data.

  • **Mobile Malware and Ransomware**

Mobile ransomware is a form of malware that targets mobile devices and is mostly used to damage, disrupt or gain illegitimate access to the user’s personal data that is stored on mobile devices. This can be anything ranging from text messages to social media chats, to call records, etc.

Why is it Important to Secure Mobile Devices?

Nowadays, mostly 90% of mobile device users store their sensitive information on their mobile devices. Somehow, if that mobile device is hacked then all the personal information and many more things are also hijacked. Mobile devices are the favorite devices for cybercriminals.

The following are key reasons that explain why securing the mobile device is important:

  • **To Protect Sensitive Personal Data Leakage**

    Malware or any malicious app installation and hacking can be prevented and blocked by installing an authentic antivirus tool.

    By clicking on potentially malicious links, you are making way for the automatic downloading of viruses, trojans, and malware on your smartphone. These tools prevent you from clicking on such links.

  • **Take Control of Your Mobile Device Data**

Securing the mobile device prevents you from losing your sensitive personal or business data.

To prevent the loss of company or private data, the best mobile security solution will be able to erase data stored in your phone, to prevent your data from being misused. This indeed will help prevent someone from utilizing your phone to extract critical information and use it for all the wrong reasons.

  • **To Protect Against Malware, and Virus Attacks**

    Installing good antivirus software will inform you in advance if you are infected with viruses or malware, and you will also know the level of its impact.

    An antivirus will delete specific forms of viruses and malware, thus preventing possible dangers.

  • **To Protect You Against Malvertisers**

    The ads by malvertizers are packed with viruses, malware, and trojans and will likely create loopholes in your mobile devices, making a way for the hackers to enter.

    Certain malverts can take you to fake links. This can infect your mobile phones with viruses or steal your sensitive information like your credit/debit card number, credentials to specific accounts, etc.

What is Mobile Security?

Mobile device security refers to the measures designed to protect mobile devices against threats. We can say that mobile device security refers to being free from danger or risk of an asset loss or data loss using mobile computers and communication hardware.

According to a survey 75% of mobile device users have so many myths about mobile device security.

Let us look at the top 5 myths about mobile security and their realities.

1. Myth – Apps Installed from Public App Stores Like Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play are Safe Resources

This is a myth, and it’s ambiguous why anyone would think that way. Most of the users believe that if they install applications from trusted public sources like app store or google play store then that application is a secure trusted safe application.

Reality – While some developers are using this public source to create genuine apps, there are plenty out there that are distributing malicious software. Google play store uses play protect mechanism to avoid installation of unsafe application. Still, there are hackers who find a way to bypass that protection.

2. Myth – iOS Devices are More Secure

Many people believe that if they have an iOS device, then they don’t need to worry about the security of their data. Apple has made it a selling point of how secure their gadgets are and how they make them safer than other manufacturers. Apple uses some strict safety mechanisms and attacks on iOS devices so people don’t tend not to worry about using extra security measures on these devices.

Reality – Attacks on iOS devices are less common, but they do still happen. A vulnerability was found in iOS devices that allowed hackers to distribute apps without going through the Apple App Store.

3. Myth – Users That are Running the Latest Versions of iOS and Android are Up to Date with Bug Fixes and Other Security Patches

It may be hard to admit, but there are organizations out there that honestly believe that carriers produce prompt over-the-air (OTA) updates.

Reality – When it comes to Android, there are millions of devices on the market today, and on your network, that are using outdated or unpatched software packed with known vulnerabilities.

The OS version that a user is running is tied to the device. For example, the latest iOS version may be available only on new or recent Apple devices but not on the older ones.

To add to that, users tend to disable the auto-update option, as they most often do.

The situation is not good for Android devices either. According to Google reports, more than 90% of users are running the old version of Android, iOS.

4. Myth – Hackers Cannot Do Any Harm if a Device is Lost or Stolen Because the Device is Locked

Users believe if a device is lost or stolen, there’s nothing hackers can do to infiltrate their device because it’s locked. Many of us believe that any sensitive data cannot be stolen from our devices because they are locked.

Right? This isn’t right at all.

Reality – An attacker can find a way to unlock the device without losing the data with the purpose of misusing it. Soon all your personal data will be in an attacker’s hand after it is stolen or lost.

Some time ago leakage of sensitive information bug was discovered on iOS devices. In that scenario, Siri granted attackers with physical access to a device the chance to snoop through the victim’s media and contacts. The bug affected the iPhone model 6S and 6S plus and was exploitable on iOS 9.2, including the latest 9.3.1 update.

5. Myth – Clicking on a Link in Text or WhatsApp Messages is Safe

Most of the users click any link that is received on their mobile device because they think that mobile device can’t be hacked with just a link.

Reality – The reality is when users click on any scammer link, they fall victim to the hacker’s prey. It is very common for scammers to circulate fake offers through WhatsApp messages, text messages, etc. Clicking on these links might infect your device with a virus and it also redirects to a fake login page that steals your sensitive information such as username, password, etc.

Conclusion

We’ve covered the top 5 myths about mobile security and also why mobile security is important. Hope you like this post 😉 and let us know if you have in mind any other myths and realities that I did not mention in this post.

About Payatu

Payatu is a Research-powered, CERT-In empaneled Cybersecurity Consulting company specializing in security assessments of IoT product ecosystem, Web application & Network with a proven track record of securing applications and infrastructure for customers across 20+ countries.

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