Smartphone Invasion: Texting Scams, Spam, Phishing Are Tops

Still Early For Dangerous Mobile Attacks

The growth of mobile devices has created a new opportunity for cybercriminals, but for now the early days of mobile malware are dominated by texting scams, spam and phishing attacks, according to a new report by Blue Coat Systems. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based secure Web gateway maker analyzed the mobile threats facing about 75 million users.

The Rise of Mischiefware

Malware is not probing and rooting devices, at least not yet, Blue Coat said. Instead, texting scams represent one of the biggest threats. The malicious behavior is run by the attacker or used in in-app purchases and exploit the working functionality of the device for nefarious purposes. Malware that owns the device is still in its infancy, Blue Coat said.

Mobile Attackers Use Easy Tactics

Classic attacks that continue to dominate PCs are now beginning to be detected on mobile devices, Blue Coat said. The attacks are easy to deploy and are device-agnostic, meaning that they can be broadly launched with minimal effort. Blue Coat said a typical phishing scam attempts to trick the user into giving up personal information, including account credentials or credit card information.

Pornographic Sites Harbor Most Mobile Malware

User behavior creates opportunities for cybercriminals. The risk of finding malicious content is nearly three times as high as any other category, Blue Coat said. More than 20 percent of the time that a user was redirected to a malicious site, they were coming from a pornography site.

Malnets Turning Sights On Mobile

The infrastructure that drove nearly two-thirds of all Web-based attacks in 2012 is setting its sights on mobile users, according to Blue Coat. Cybercriminals are using existing infrastructure to change domain names for attacks while leaving the rest of the attack path in place, a tactic that simplifies the process of carrying out broad campaigns. About 40 percent of mobile malware blocked by Blue Coat has originated from known malnets.

Malicious Android Apps

Malnet infrastructure increasingly served up mobile malware in the form of malicious apps targeting Android device owners, Blue Coat said. In 2012, mobile traffic to malnets increased to 2 percent of overall malnet traffic. Blue Coat predicts the traffic will increase in 2013. Attacks are a business decision. As long as an attack campaign requires a relatively low investment and impacts a broad audience, cybercriminals will see value in making the investment in time and money.