What is Mobile Malware?

What is Mobile Malware

Mobile malware attacks can compromise the security of your device and steal personal information from you. Attackers use various tactics to penetrate devices, including malicious websites, email attachments, SMS messages and drive-by download attacks.

Skulls is a malicious Trojan horse designed to attack Symbian OS devices by replacing system icons with skulls and crossbones, deleting application files, and spreading via Bluetooth. Such attacks have the potential of devastatingly impactful business data on mobile devices.

What is mobile malware?

Mobile malware, or harmful software used by cybercriminals to compromise smartphones, tablets and smartwatches to steal personal data is becoming an ever-increasing risk to companies that permit employees and guests to bring in their own devices for work purposes. It has the ability to target both staff members and guests independently.

Attackers can gain complete access to devices in an organization and gain control, gaining entry to corporate networks as a result. Common types of mobile malware include worms, viruses, spyware, ransomware and Trojans – though attacks often combine different forms.

Spyware often masquerades as legitimate apps and gains access to calendar applications, email accounts, password managers and other applications that contain sensitive data. Once compromised, it sends that data out for processing to a remote server; hackers then generate income by showing pop-up ads or enabling malicious content displays that generate pop-up ads or generate revenue for themselves through these means; some malware even encrypts data before demanding payment to decrypt it! Malware can also spread via websites exploiting vulnerabilities in smartphones’ operating systems; opening suspicious email attachments or USB drives carrying it containing malware.

Best Practices for Mobile Device Security

Mobile devices are invaluable tools for business, but they also present serious security threats. Hackers have access to sensitive company data through these devices and the threat landscape is continuously expanding. Luckily, there are multiple methods available to you for protecting against mobile malware attacks on devices.

Staying current with software updates is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of malware attacks. Outdated operating systems give hackers entry points into your phone, potentially leading to theft of personal or corporate data or its exploitation.

Install apps only from official app stores and read reviews prior to downloading them. Furthermore, installing a virtual private network (VPN) app could serve as an intermediary between your device and the internet and protect it against rogue WiFi hotspots or man-in-the-middle attacks.

Be wary of downloading free apps that require too many permissions as these could be malicious programs in disguise. Furthermore, jailbreaking or rooting devices increases the risk of infection from untrustworthy sources and you should ensure they remain up-to-date with security patches as well as run antivirus protection regularly to maintain protection.

1.Mobile Device Management MDM

Mobile Device Management (MDM) is an invaluable tool that enables you to secure the devices and data of your team from a single platform. MDM makes monitoring applications, configurations and security policies across an entire fleet of devices easy!

MDM solutions may include conditional access policies to enforce zero-trust strategies, application control to restrict which apps install on devices, OS update policies to keep devices current with latest features, as well as remote tracking and wiping capability if a device becomes lost or stolen.

To ensure your MDM solution is effective, seek a vendor with user-friendly interfaces and comprehensive support. This will allow you to implement MDM policies without disrupting user experiences or compromising security. In addition, make sure your solution supports BYOD for maximum productivity and efficiency from day one by giving users preconfigured devices ready for work.

2. OS updates

OS updates for mobile devices offer many advantages, such as improved usability, enhanced features and security improvements. Unfortunately, cybercriminals also take advantage of these updates to launch malicious attacks on devices’ vulnerable operating systems.

An example is a fake “System Update” RAT (Remote Access Trojan), which has been widely disseminated as an app offering system updates. However, this trojan can have various functions ranging from spying on its victims to secretly installing new malicious programs through droppers.

Malware can also be hidden within apps that purport to provide useful services such as password managers or data savers, even ones downloaded from official app stores. A recent study conducted by cybersecurity firm Zimperium zLabs demonstrated how apps claiming to store passwords or information could actually contain malicious code which sends your personal data directly to attackers’ servers.

Other types of mobile malware include SMS Trojans that intercept users’ text messages and forward them to premium-rate numbers across the world; banking trojans that steal user credentials; and app stores with reliable mobile security applications can help reduce these risks. To protect yourself against these threats, only download apps from official app stores or install reliable security applications on your phone.

3. Install apps from official app stores alone

Third-party app stores are one of the main contributors to mobile device infections with malware, while Apple and Google official stores provide safeguards to screen for such code; third-party stores do not. As a result, users run the risk of downloading apps containing spyware, adware or banking trojans that pose as legitimate apps but actually contain hidden malicious code that compromise their devices.

These malicious apps can display annoying advertisements or collect personal data such as passwords and credit card details from devices they infect, including redirecting them to phishing websites, providing false security alerts or even remotely locking their devices.

To protect against mobile malware attacks, the best approach is to download apps only from trustworthy sources, like the official app store. This is particularly important for businesses where employees access company networks and data through personal devices owned by themselves; any malware on an employee-owned device could potentially expose sensitive corporate data to attackers.

4. Do not connect to public Wi-Fi networks

As soon as an employee connects a mobile device to a public Wi-Fi network, they open themselves up to hackers stealing personal data. All data passing over this connection is unsecure, meaning hackers can use sophisticated snooping software to collect passwords, credit card numbers and more from this vulnerable system.

Employees can take steps to mitigate threats against themselves. For instance, they should only download applications from official app stores (not third-party ones) and ensure their OS stays up-to-date. They can also make sure to use a VPN application when connecting to public Wi-Fi, as this routes data through an encrypted server and protects sensitive information.

And to further ensure protection from mobile malware threats, they can tether their devices to private networks whenever possible when using them for work purposes. By following best practices like two-factor authentication on important accounts and not providing sensitive details like passwords, credit card details or home addresses over public WiFi networks – they can keep themselves safer.

5. Enable remote wipe on all mobile devices

Organizations reliant on mobile devices for work or those employing BYOD policies face the threat of malware just like PCs do – trojans, worms, spyware and ransomware can easily infiltrate mobile devices just as much as they would PCs.

Trojan horse infections often disguise themselves as innocent executable files or applications and activate on user interaction to launch malicious payloads. One popular trojan, Skulls, infiltrates Symbian OS devices by changing desktop icons with images of skulls and rendering phone applications useless while sending sensitive information back to an offsite server. A type of trojan called RAT (Remote Access Tool) gives hackers full control of a device by searching installed applications, call history logs, address books and SMS data while banking trojans target passwords and account login details from both login details and accounts.

Other methods used to distribute mobile malware include exploiting vulnerabilities in operating systems and apps, installing adware programs and abusing app permissions. For instance, the Cabir worm first made its debut in 2004 on devices running Symbian OS by sending SMS texts without user consent to premium numbers.

Types of Mobile Malware and Deployment Methods

Organizations allowing their employees to use personal mobile devices for work can face a real threat from malware aimed at infiltrating and exploiting mobile phone operating systems.

With employees increasingly working from home and using personal mobile devices for work purposes, it’s crucial that they are protected from cyber attacks. Learn about the different forms of mobile malware and how you can safeguard yourself against them.

1. Mobile viruses

With mobile device usage on the rise, cyber attackers have developed and deployed more effective malware types and methods for targeting these devices. For instance, viruses can consume device processing power and battery life, corrupt files that contain sensitive information, change phone settings to send SMS messages instead of emails, hijack browsers or even completely freeze up a device.

Trojans, disguised as legitimate software programs, allow hackers to gain unauthorized entry to users’ devices through backdoor Trojans. Once in, hackers can exploit this backdoor access to collect call logs, text messages and GPS locations; banking trojans operate similarly to PC-based Zeus Trojans in harvesting credentials and sensitive information for financial gain.

Spyware is malware that collects and records information without user consent, such as device locations, cameras, microphones or keyboard input. Typically it’s installed through unofficial applications or malicious links in emails or texts messages containing spam, as well as through peer-to-peer file sharing networks like P2P file sharing networks. Once in place it can record or hijack webcams; disable GPS/microphone capabilities on devices and microphones as well as take control of various components like accelerometers remotely.

2. Computer worm

Users increasingly rely on mobile devices for high-value tasks like online banking and shopping, making them vulnerable targets of cybercriminals. Worms can infiltrate operating systems on mobile devices without users realizing, infiltrating operating systems without users knowing and then accessing private data such as contacts, notes or passwords – possibly encrypting these for ransom via cryptocurrency payments – or they could encrypt sensitive information and demand payment to decrypt it – such as with Cabir worm which infected Android devices using apps posing as password manager/security scanner downloaded from Google Play/Amazon Appstore – such threats can spread via uninformed app downloads; this could include threats like Cabir worm which infected Android devices with apps masquerading as security scanner downloaded via both Google Play/Amazon Appstore – becoming targets of cybercriminals as cybercriminals seek to gain control over users’ data-rich targets by cybercriminals looking to gain control over it all or worse than it all.

Drive-by downloads, embedded in websites that automatically install spyware, adware or riskware onto mobile devices through drive-by downloads embedded within them, is another form of mobile malware. In Q1 of 2021 alone, Kaspersky programs blocked over 5 million such installations. Furthermore, criminals often embed Trojan viruses within non-malicious apps or files on devices, then activate them when someone clicks a link or opens a file, potentially stealing data, deactivating other applications, or paralyzing the device itself.

3. Mobile phishing

Cyberattackers have targeted over 5.3 billion mobile devices globally with malware designed to steal or misuse device functions or data, like CopyCat and NickSpy; other times these attacks may come via legitimate-app stores (for instance via their download from third-party stores), password managers or launchers such as ZitMo. These attacks use man-in-the-mobile attacks against mobile banking codes like mTAN.

Since many users employ their personal phones for business use, hackers are using mobile phishing to attack organizations via emails, SMS (Smishing), social media services or fraudulent apps. Their attacks can potentially bring down operating systems while also compromising confidential work data and user credentials.

Trojans – including remote access Trojans (RATs) – present another major security threat, as they collect intelligence about mobile devices or their owners before transmitting this back to an attacker. Such information includes call history, text message content, web browsing habits and installed applications.

4. Mobile bot

Mobile bots are computer programs that impersonate human behavior in order to disrupt services, steal data or make fraudulent purchases. Mobile bots pose a growing threat to businesses worldwide, costing billions each year in fraud and loss. But consumers may be especially at risk due to keylogging sensitive data, falsifying geo-location data or accessing personal accounts that they could gain entry to through these bots.

Bot attacks typically take the form of download links posted to social media and emails that direct users to click, infiltrating their computers with viruses and malware. They may also hide behind legitimate applications while exploiting vulnerabilities within operating systems and browsers.

Botnets have become more sophisticated and difficult to identify in recent years. Some can bypass security measures using techniques such as IP rate limiting and CAPTCHAs which require users to answer questions or complete puzzles to verify their identity, while others employ credential stuffing (i.e. inserting stolen usernames and passwords into online login pages to gain unauthorized access), credential stuffing credential stuffing credentials into online log-in pages to gain unauthorized access users’ accounts; mobile bots can also attack mobile games by altering internal game data modification techniques; mobile bots may even modify internal game data modifications by mobile bots!

5. Mobile phishing

As mobile devices have become more common work tools, threat actors have taken to using malicious code against these devices. Attackers utilize various types of malware and deployment techniques to gain entry to smartphones and steal crucial information.

Trojans (such as keyloggers and screen recorders) often synchronize with apps, calendars and notes to collect data before sending it off to a remote server. Banking trojans such as Zeus and ZitMo may intercept mTAN login credentials to gain entry to money accounts or obtain personal information.

Mobile phishing involves hackers embedding malicious links in emails and SMS messages with the intention of duping users into clicking them, leading them into installing malware that installs itself onto devices, steals sensitive information from phones or hostsage-holds devices for ransom payments.

Mobile phishing attacks can occur through apps found in third-party app stores, insecure Wi-Fi networks and USB drives. Once installed, these applications may perform malicious acts such as changing device settings, mining for passwords and taking over admin control in order to steal data.

6. Spyware

Attackers use spyware to spy on users, steal their personal data and manipulate devices and apps for malicious use.

Spyware typically synchronizes calendar apps without user consent and monitors users’ current location, usernames and passwords in order to gain entry to accounts. Other forms of spyware collect call history, SMS data, browsing history and installed apps in order to track users’ activities; some types connect directly with local toll numbers that display pornographic material e.g. TIBS Dialer; while depraved marketers employ Madware spyware that hijacks browsers in order to insert advertisements.

Contrary to viruses that primarily focus on known vulnerabilities, spyware often exploits flaws in mobile operating systems like Android’s media library to hide malware in texts without users even realizing. Such attacks allow cybercriminals to collect sensitive data about victims while also gaining entry to their accounts – creating a serious security threat for organizations that allow employees to work from home or bring their own device (BYOD policy).

7. Ransomware

Ransomware, a type of mobile malware similar to PC malware, locks users’ devices and data. Once locked up, its attackers demand money in exchange for unlocking it so the device returns control back to the owner.

Attackers may use mobile malware to spy on their victims, send advertisements that interrupt their browsing sessions and gain access to personal data without their knowledge. Such spyware typically installs without user consent and gains access to location, passwords, activity across apps and browsers as well as personal details about them such as location.

Hackers utilize several tactics to spread mobile malware, including unauthorized app downloads and phishing attempts. Hackers find infecting smartphones and tablets easier than ever thanks to companies’ BYOD policies that require employees use their own devices for work as part of BYOD policies. Hackers also employ applications called remote access trojans (RATs) which give them extensive control over victims’ devices including accessing calls, SMS data and GPS location as well as remotely synchronizing calendars, notes and sensitive files with remote servers.

How to prevent from Mobile malware?

Mobile devices have quickly become the go-to solution for transacting online, storing information, and engaging in social media, making them prime targets for cybercriminals. Protecting a smartphone or tablet against malware requires understanding potential threats, using an antivirus protection solution, and following basic mobile security best practices.

Attackers use various means to infiltrate smartphones and tablets, including malicious links in email or text messages and SMS phishing (SMiShing) attacks using messages that look like legitimate notifications to download malicious applications that collect credentials such as passwords, logins and account details from victims.

Other tactics employ malware bundled into free software downloads or clicked by users as malicious links, with Trojans gaining entry to mobile devices by infecting them with keyloggers that record every keystroke and screen activity, and banking trojans designed to steal credentials.

Madware (commonly referred to as “adware“) can be installed onto phones without their owner’s knowledge and installed without their consent, sending sensitive data directly to servers. Some variants can encrypt device memory until payment has been made for its decryption by an attacker.


Cyber attacks against mobile devices have increased exponentially over time. Such cyber attacks can have devastating repercussions for businesses and employees, such as stealing private information and crippling devices. It is imperative to implement stringent mobile security measures for your employees’ own protection.

Malware on mobile devices comes in various forms: worms, Trojans, keyloggers, screen scrapers and cryptominers are just some of the dangers to be wary of. Worms exploit vulnerabilities in software to spread to other devices while Trojans often hide in seemingly legitimate applications and take control of devices once infected.

SMS trojans cause financial havoc by redirecting users’ text messages to premium-rate numbers across the world, running up their phone bills. Meanwhile, banking trojans send users’ financial details directly to hackers without their knowledge – or send it straight back again without them even realizing it!

Ransomware attacks pose another significant cyber security risk that should be treated with equal urgency as other cyber attacks. It can encrypt mobile devices and demand payment to unlock them – creating significant disruption and cost to business finances.

Sam is an experienced information security specialist who works with enterprises to mature and improve their enterprise security programs. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.