Mobile devices have changed the way we live, work and play yet the tricks that have been used by cyber criminals to install malware on our computers are now beginning to threaten our smart phones and other mobile devices. Malware is any type of hostile, intrusive, annoying software or program code that is designed to use a device without the owner’s consent. They can be grouped into several categories ranging from viruses, worms, Trojans, rootkits and botnets. Throughout this paper I will discuss the different types of malware more in detail, divulge the operating system that may be more vulnerable to malware, describe the stages of malware attacks and explain the practices to avoid malware on your mobile device. Due to a significant increase in the number of mobile devices in use, malware threats on mobile devices are becoming a serious issue. These are various types of socially engineered attacks that simply trick the consumer into accepting what the cybercriminal is selling. As mentioned earlier, there are several forms of mobile malware that can be delivered to mobile device. The most common mobile threat is spam. Spam are poisoned links on the social networking sites and rogue applications usually delivered through unsolicited emails. A virus is a piece of code that has replicated itself and therefore, infect other programs. Whereas a worm is a program that makes copies of itself, typically from one device to another using different transport mechanisms without any user intervention. This attachment can damage and compromise the security of the device or consume the network bandwidth. Rootkits achieve their malicious goals by infecting the operating system. They usually hide nasty process files or install Trojans to disable firewalls and antivirus. Hence, rootkits have the ability of staying longer on the device since they have control of the operating system. Lastly, the botnet provide hackers with permission over the compromised mobile device, enabling hackers to send e-mail or text messages, make phone calls, access contacts, photos, and more. Most mobile botnets go undetected and are able to spread by sending copies of themselves from compromised devices to other devices via text messages or e-mail messages. Botnets represents a serious security threat on the Internet and most of them are developed for organized crime and doing attacks to gain money (La Polla et al., 2013a, p. 448). Mobile malware can spread through several applications such as SMS – short message service, which contain a link to the site where a user can download the malicious code, a MMS – multimedia messaging service, with infected attachments, or an infected program received through Bluetooth. The main goals of malware targeted at smartphones include theft of personal data stored in the phone (La Polla et al., 2013a, p. 448). This is especially discerning for Android users because the Android marketplace is not very closely monitored, since it adopts the “anything goes” philosophy. Combined with the current buzz around new smartphones running Android, makes the platform more attractive to cybercriminals (La Polla, Martinelli, & Sgandurra, 2013b, p. 457). While most mobile malware is found in countries like Russia and China, users from Europe and the United States are not completely immune. Additionally, since Google and Verizon Wireless have promised to create open mobile-phone platforms where customers can use any handset they want and anyone can write applications (“Protect your Android device from malware,” n.d.), mobile malware will continue to be an issue of concern. The types of mobile attacks that are common are ones which require the user to take action and change their security settings, download an app or otherwise give control of their device to a third party; there are notable ways in which consumers can avoid downloading an attack once they are aware of the four stages of mobile malware. Stage 1:...
References: La Polla, M., Martinelli, F., & Sgandurra, D. (2013a). A Survey on Security for Mobile Devices. IEEE Communications Surveys Tutorials, 15(1), 446–471. doi:10.1109/SURV.2012.013012.00028
La Polla, M., Martinelli, F., & Sgandurra, D. (2013b). A Survey on Security for Mobile Devices. IEEE Communications Surveys Tutorials, 15(1), 446–471. doi:10.1109/SURV.2012.013012.00028
Protect your Android device from malware. (n.d.). Retrieved September 21, 2014, from http://www.cnet.com/how-to/protect-your-android-device-from-malware/
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