Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) has launched a new Mobile Malware Awareness Campaign as part of its European Cyber Security Month, which runs up until Friday.
To support the initiative, EC3 is providing a range of support material in over 20 languages that explains the threat posed by mobile malware, and how device owners can avoid falling victim to hackers who target smartphones.
The material examines how mobile phone users can carry out everyday activities such as banking online, downloading apps and connecting to Wi-Fi networks without exposing themselves to threats including man-in-the-middle attacks and ransomware.
EC3 recommends that device owners should only install apps from trusted sources, never click on suspicious links in emails or text messages, always keep their operating system and virus protection software updated, and only turn their Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections on when they need to use them.
Europol Director Rob Wainwright commented: “Law enforcement and our industry partners continue to report the proliferation of mobile malware, which is now as complex as PC malware.
“The use of security software and the reporting of attacks will give both law enforcement and the security industry an overall clearer picture and thereby a greater capacity to mitigate the threat. We need to send an awareness message to citizens and business, and this global campaign is the first step to create a common alliance between public and private sectors within the EU and beyond.”
In its most recent Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA), Europol notes that mobile malware is now equally as sophisticated as PC viruses, observing an increase in click-fraud, banking Trojans, “drive-by downloads” and ransomware on smartphones and tablets. The agency said the fact that mobile users are less likely than PC users to use reliable security software makes owners of smartphones more vulnerable to attack.
The vast majority of malware affects devices powered by Google’s Android operating system – particularly older versions of the software. Back in July it was revealed that as many as 10 million Android devices worldwide had been infected with a virus that generates fake ad clicks. According to researchers, the Hummingbad virus – which downloads apps without permission and spies on the browsing history of infected users – was making its owners over €275,000 per month through fake ad impressions at the time.
Earlier this month it was revealed that over half of all Android phones were vulnerable to a virus called Ghost Push, which infects devices through corrupt apps on the Goggle Play store platform and then seeks to steal personal information from device owners via fake ads and rogue websites. In the middle of October, researchers from Cheetah Mobile estimated that the malware was being downloaded around 10,000 times a day.