While it is widely understood that mobile devices are more than just phones – they are a lifeline to the outside world, entertainment platform, GPS system, little black book and a shopping and banking tool – it’s lesser known that these devices are also gateways. Mobile devices can be used by a hacker as an access point into many other aspects of your digital life as well the lives of others in your network, making mobile security about more than just protecting your phone.
Hackers can use your mobile device as an access point to data that have historically been exclusively stored to your laptop or desktop, such as social network and bank accounts. One of the most harmful (and popular) mobile threats has to do with apps. Installing apps from unknown or untrusted sources like apps outside the official Google Play Market could allow hackers to steal sensitive and private information stored on your mobile device including passwords, photos, contacts and location data.
As the key to your digital identity, hackers can use your mobile device as a way to get to other devices. One of the recently discovered methods attackers are using is a malware called Android/NotCompatible. This Android Trojan is a drive-by download that turns an infected mobile device into an access point, or proxy, to break into private computer networks. This means that this hack could not only lead to attacks on your other devices, but also the devices of anyone connected on the same network as you. It works by forwarding the network traffic sent by the control server to another host in the network, which could be any other device inside a corporate network if the mobile device is connected to an internal Wi-Fi. Essentially, if you fall victim to this drive-by download, you are exposing attackers to your entire digital life as well as that of anyone connected to your network – such as your colleagues, family or roommates. Worms and Man-in-the-Middle attacks are other examples of threats in which a hacker could potentially use one mobile device as the access point to other devices.
With the type and frequency of mobile threats on the rise, consumers need to ensure that they cut off hackers at the gateway, their mobile devices. While consumers are used to PCs being almost universally equipped with firewall protection and some sort of anti-malware defense to guard against attacks, they don’t realize that mobile devices are usually left defenseless and don’t take the necessary measures to protect their digital identity. In fact, according to a study that The National Cyber Security Alliance conducted with McAfee, 64 percent of Americans have never installed security software or apps on their mobile device in order to make it more secure from viruses or malware.
Before you allow hackers to use your mobile device as the gateway to your online identity, or the devices of those in your network, make sure you are using a mobile protection solution that defends against the aforementioned hacks and helps you understand the risky behaviors associated with apps.