McAfee Labs reports that cyber attacks on mobile are increasing

According to observations made by laboratories antivirus vendor McAfee in early 2014, cyber-attacks are increasing on mobile applications and services.

McAfee Labs found that 79 percent of sampled clones of the Flappy Birds game contained malware. Through these clones, perpetrators were able to make phone calls without user permission, install additional apps, extract contact list data, track geo-location and establish root access for uninhibited control over anything on the device, including the recording, sending, and receiving of SMS messages.

Beyond app reputation, McAfee Labs saw notable examples of mobile malwareon Android that take advantage of the features of trusted apps and services. The malicious mobile app BadInst.A abuses app store account authentication and authorization to automatically download, install and launch other apps without user permission. The Trojan Waller.A exploits a flaw in a legitimate digital wallet service to commandeer its money-transfer protocol and transfer money to the attacker’s servers. Another Trojan Balloonpopper.A exploits an encryption method weakness in the popular messaging app WhatsApp, allowing attackers to intercept and share conversations and photos without users’ permission.

McAfee Labs thinks that the user tends to trust the names he knows on the internet and risks compromising his safety if it means gaining what he most desire. This year 2014 has already given us ample evidence that mobile malware developers are playing on these inclinations to manipulate the familiar, legitimate features in the mobile apps and services the users recognize and trust. Developers must become more vigilant with the controls they build into these apps, and users must be more mindful of what permissions they grant. McAfee Labs say that “zoo” of mobile malware samples grew by 167 percent between Q1 2013 and Q1 2014. New suspect URLs set a three-month record with more than 18 million, a 19 percent increase over Q4 2013 and the fourth straight quarterly increase.

The report highlights the need for mobile app developers to be more vigilant about the security of their apps, and encourages users to be mindful when granting permission requests that criminals could exploit for profit. The manipulation of legitimate mobile apps and services played a key role in the expansion of mobile malware at the beginning of 2014. See also

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