Time to take mobile security seriously

Trend Micro's Threat Security Roundup highlights changing trends in the security landscape, including the growing threat of mobile devices.

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Mobile devices are the most important current security threat.

This is according to the second-quarter Trend Micro Threat Security Roundup.

While the use of mobile malware has been on the rise for a while, criminals are becoming more and more sophisticated in their targeting of mobile devices, says Trend Micro. "Our most recent threat report shows that cyber criminals have absolutely no regard for the privacy of Google Android smartphone and tablet users," says Gregory Anderson, country manager at Trend Micro SA.

Malicious, high-risk Android apps are on the rise, says Anderson, having increased by almost 30% since last quarter. "Our Trend analysts tracked 718 000 separate instances of high-risk Android apps in the second quarter, up from 509 000 high-risk apps found in the first three months of this year. Based on these figures, we estimate that the number of high-risk Android applications available on the market will exceed a million by the end of 2013."

'Obad' malware, dubbed the "most sophisticated Android malware yet" by its discoverers at Kaspersky Lab, alongside the 'master key' vulnerabilities that allow cyber criminals to easily exploit weaknesses in the Android ecosystem, have contributed directly to the rise in risk associated with Android devices in particular. The United Arab Emirates tops the list of countries with the highest malicious app download volumes, followed by Myanmar, Vietnam and Mexico.

SA does not make the top 10, but does feature in the top 10 countries with the highest risk of privacy exposure due to application use, coming in at number seven, behind Malaysia, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia.

Online banking is another threat of great concern. According to the threat report, the online banking threat count increased by almost 33% in comparison with the first quarter of 2013. Users in the US, Brazil, Australia and France were at the highest risk for online banking crime, followed by Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam.

"The report reveals that SA is the seventh most at-risk to privacy exposure as a result of mobile app use, bringing home the fact that these threats are as big a risk to us here locally than they are to those abroad," says Anderson.

It highlights the fact that cyber criminals have come up with more diverse attacks, using spam and phishing sites, search engines, social media and mobile adware to trick users into giving out information.

"Our security is constantly under threat and it simply isn't enough to invest in technology to assist you once and then believe you are secure. With the ever-changing threat landscape, coming from elements such as application developers, advertising networks and social media services, we need to be even more vigilant than before," he emphasises.

People are accustomed to using security solutions for their PCs, but have been less proactive in adopting them for mobile devices, according to the report, with only 30% of devices in the US using any kind of security application.

"If the report shows us anything, it is that the time to take mobile security seriously is now," concludes Anderson. "Particularly in an era in which businesses are enabling and deploying BYOD policies, and providing employees with the platform to bring these devices into the corporate environment, thus opening up businesses to these self-same threats."

The full report is available for download.

Staff Writer

ITWeb's journalist

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