November 25, 2014
Researchers at security firm Lookout have been tracking mobile malware for almost two years. As the firm predicted, millions of mobile users have been affected by a recent mobile epidemic of viruses and spam. Hackers are finding new ways to deceive mobile device users via techniques involving email and implanting harmful codes on websites. As attackers become more sophisticated in their methods, mobile users should be more careful of their online activity.
Since 2013, Lookout has detected 4-4.5 million Android users that have been targeted with mobile malware. In many cases, these viruses can be very difficult to detect, especially if you are not looking for them.
According to The New York Times, criminals have been known to “infect smartphones primarily by injecting legitimate websites with malicious code. When victims visit the site from their mobile phone, they inadvertently download the code, in what is known as a ‘drive-by download.'”
A less subtle method of attack has been the use of spam emails. Lookout reports that spam has been used to spread as many as 20,000 infections per day. With an email, hackers can include direct links or attachments that expose users to these viruses.
Lookout has been tracking multiple iterations of mobile malware identified as NotCompatible, the most recent being the most sophisticated to date with the capability to “[allow] infected devices to search for and communicate with other infected machines and share intelligence,” explains NYT.
Lookout suggests that NotCompatible is also supplying third party users access to these infected devices to push more spam and sometimes make bulky and costly transactions. Those affected by these viruses can often be vulnerable to heavy data usage, battery drainage and privacy violations.
The malware epidemic calls for better security options to protect our mobile phones against harmful viruses. For example, Lookout has developed a security app available for iOS and Android users to combat NotCompatible.