Norton UK Blog
Top 5 Mobile Security Threats
We do love our mobiles, and our passion for them is on the rise. According to eMarketer, over a third of the world’s population will own a smartphone by 2017. But we’re not the only ones with a desire for these devices. Cybercriminals, too, have an appetite for mobiles: the Symantec Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR) shows that 38 per cent of smartphone users became victims of cybercrime in 2013.
The phenomenal growth in use of smartphones and tablets, along with our sometimes not-so-smart attitude to security, means that our mobile devices are easy and plentiful targets. As well as containing masses of valuable personal data, our mobiles are the perfect way for cybercriminals to get at us.
And with Wired reporting that mobile broadband subscribers are forecast to reach 5 billion worldwide in 2016, there is a vast and widening pool of potential victims.
Many people think you don’t need security for a mobile device, but read on and you’ll see why it’s essential. Here are our top 5 reasons to protect your mobile with security software.
1. Mobile malware
Mobile malware is thriving, and evolving. Malicious software aims to steal your data and make money.
Common activities include tracking your device’s location, using audio and video to monitor you, diverting texts from your bank, making charges to your phone, messaging your contacts, collecting device information, downloading and installing apps and files, and handing over control of your device to an attacker.
- Premium-rate SMS fraud is the main type of malware affecting people worldwide. Banking fraud is also on the rise.
- According to ISTR data, Android is the prime target: 97 per cent of malware threats occur on Android devices. Meanwhile, ransomware is exploding: attacks increased by 500 per cent in 2013.
- Malware has piggybacked on robust Android growth and vulnerability: Android devices took up to 79 per cent of the mobile market in 2013.
- iOS is not immune. Despite the ‘walled garden’ approach Apple takes towards security, cybercriminals have hijacked iPhones and iPads via the Find My iPhone app, locked them and held them to ransom.
2. Loss or theft
We carry our little mobile treasures with us everywhere, making them vulnerable to theft, damage and loss – which in turn leaves sensitive personal or corporate data open to exploitation. And if we sell our phones or tablets without first wiping them, we risk selling on all of that information too.
- In the last year, 27 per cent of people lost their mobile device or had it stolen (ISTR 2014).
- According to the 2012/13 Crime Survey for England and Wales, 742,000 people fell victim to mobile phone theft in England and Wales.
- THE Home Office reports that iPhones are the most likely smartphones to be stolen. Women and 14- to 24-year-olds were the most vulnerable groups.
- When Apple introduced the ‘kill switch’ last year, thefts of iPhones fell – but thefts of other smartphones increased. Microsoft and Google are now working on similar deterrents.
3. Social media
Scammers love a good social network. Spam and phishing is shifting away from email and into social media, but using the same sort of bait.
- Fake offers are the most common form of social media-based attack. Social network users are invited to join a fake event, download an app or piece of music, or enter a competition – perhaps in return for a free gift.
- Users are often asked to give their account log-in or text a premium rate number.
4. The not-so-smart user
Despite our love affair with and reliance on our tablets and smartphones, we are reckless when it comes to protecting them. According to the 2014 Symantec ISTR, 52 per cent of us store sensitive information online, yet only half of us take basic precautions like using passwords, installing security software or backing up our mobile devices.
And we’re getting worse:
- In 2012, 44 per cent of adults didn’t know that security software existed for mobile devices.
- This number rose to 57 per cent in 2013.
Not only is our mobile security awareness declining, but the number of people using mobile devices is growing. A risky situation.
5. Mixing business with pleasure
Increasingly, employers are providing their workers with mobile devices. The ability of employees to work from anywhere at any time boosts productivity, but poses a major security risk. When staff leave the company’s secure network for their homes, their children’s schools, and areas with public WiFi, so can all the company’s information.
The 2013 Norton Report showed that:
- 49 per cent of people use their personal mobile devices for both work and play
- 36 per cent say their employer has no policy on using personal devices for work;
- 52 per cent of mobile users say they store sensitive files online;
- One-quarter of those who use online file storage use the same account for both work and personal files
- 30 per cent of parents allow their children to use their work device to play, shop and download.
- 21 per cent share passwords and logins with families, while 18 per cent share passwords and logins with friends.
Go mobile with confidence
Mobiles are central to your ever-connected lives on the go, so it’s important to recognise security risks and take action to prevent them.
These threats will only increase as we put more and more data on our devices that cybercriminals aim to exploit. And if we continue to be blasé about keeping phones and tablets safe, blend work and play mobile activity, and get click-happy on email and social media, we just make it easier for them.
Be proactive and install a comprehensive mobile security solution to help protect your tablets and smartphones. That way, you can safely and confidently make the most of your busy, connected lives on the go.
No one can prevent all cybercrime or identity theft.
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