Smartphones becoming vulnerable to cyber attacks

Mobile apps, online shopping and wallets exposing devices to new threats.

By Author   |   Published: 4th Oct 2017   12:15 am Updated: 3rd Oct 2017   11:42 pm
Cyber Attack

Hyderabad: Mobile security is a necessity for consumers in today’s connected world, but it’s more than just protecting the device. One must proactively protect personal data from threats and loss. Mobile phones are the key to consumers’ digital lives and host sensitive personal information. Mobile apps can access and control an ever-increasing amount of personal data and content stored on phones.

As mobile devices have grown more important, the mobile threat landscape has grown more sophisticated. Criminals have perfected ways to hide mobile malware from security solutions and mobile ransomware is on the rise.

Atul Gupta, partner, IT Advisory and Cyber Security Lead KPMG in India, told Telangana Today, “Mobility has led to transformation for providing and accessing digital services, however, if not managed well mobility can expose to individuals and organisations to significant cyber security risks.”

The other challenge is also emerging due to security not being provided its due importance as part of the app development process (security by design). There has been multi-fold increase in subscriber base for digital wallets, and due to security not being designed appropriately exposes the users.

Gupta added, “Government has established a Cyber Swachatta Kendra in February this year with key focus on Botnet cleaning and Malware analysis. There are over 50,000 incidents reported in the previous year.”

Mobile apps

A Norton Mobile Survey reveals that close to 50 per cent of Indians have over 20 apps on their smartphones. One in three consumers accept that many apps they use are likely to collect data about them, yet one in five say they would download any app that “looked cool”, regardless of its origin or reputation.

A shocking 36 per cent would either always grant permissions or simply don’t know enough about the kind of permissions they may have granted. Only eight per cent reject requests bearing in mind the risks involved.

Nearly half of the app users have granted access to contacts and mobile data, 50 per cent have granted permission to send promotional texts/emails, close to 40 per cent have granted permission to access their camera, bookmarks and browser history and about 30 per cent have granted permission to apps for tracking their geo-location.

Online shopping

Mobile devices are increasingly important to how we shop and pay – both online and in-store. Close to 50 per cent of consumers accept that they shop online more than ever before. 68 per cent of the users worry about the security threats of online shopping and 42 per cent say they have in fact experienced a security problem, threat or nuisance as a result of using their devices for online shopping. Yet, only 26 per cent of online shoppers believe that threats are increasing. Ironically, a whopping 50 per cent believe that online risks are reducing.
Interestingly, within India, users in Delhi (71 per cent) indulge more frequently in mobile banking than those in Mumbai (63 per cent), the financial capital of India.

Mobile wallets

More than half of the users believe their mWallet has come under threat as a result of using other apps on their devices, especially social media apps which poses greatest threats. On an average, users find it safe to hold over Rs 19,000 across their mWallet accounts at any given time.

One-third of the device users had experienced virus/malware on their devices. The victims also felt that these problems had taken up an average of over 24 hours to resolve. Hyderabad-based cyber security solutions company Ensurity Technologies CEO and founder Chakradhar Kommera said, “Android phones are more vulnerable as they are open. There are deliberate malware apps that are being created today. There is very limited protection available. People love free apps and here comes the real threat. Users are not willing to download apps that come for a fee even though they are safe. There are no secured hardware phones available yet, so devices have exposure to high vulnerabilities.”