The Security Threat From Smartphone Apps


The Escalating Security Threat From Smartphone Apps

Popular apps on your smartphone can be entertaining, convenient and often inexpensive or free, but are they secure? A vast majority of smartphone users fail to comprehend the intricacies of how a downloaded app functions on their phone, thereby, making them oblivious to proper security assessment.

A number of these apps usually contain malicious software, or malware, that paves the way for hackers to access your personal data. Today, occurrences of mobile devices getting hacked and hackers misusing private user information are quite common. In fact, according to Forcepoint 2016 Global Threat Report, “malicious content in email increased 250% in 2015 compared to the previous 12 months.”

Nowadays, mobile apps are omnipresent to the grave attention of cyber offenders and even popular tech giants such as Apple have not escaped their wrath. For instance, in 2010, Apple banned a Vietnam-based developer from its online app store after he hacked about 400 iTunes accounts. By July 2010, it was reported that more than 4 million Android users had downloaded a malicious wallpaper application that transferred the data to a Chinese website. These are just a couple of examples. The world ofInternet is full of such worrisome incidents.

These security threats due to mobile apps are not just restricted to individual smartphone users. In fact, a number of businesses over the past few years have experienced multimillion-dollar scams, hacks, breaches and embezzlements of thousands of private accounts. All these incidences highlight that app store checks are not completely fail-safe and mobile operating systems have susceptibilities. Now that smartphones have become prevalent enough to harvest decent revenues, they’re becoming quite appealing targets for cyber offenders.

In a majority of these cases, the problem lies at the end of tech companies and developers since most mobile devices, software, and apps are not developed with security as a primacy. According to a Kaspersky security bulletin, the year 2016 witnessed an unexpected spurt in malware outbreaks on Android devices. The haste to market the products and the race to offer improved functionality often pushes the security away from the limelight. Consequently, we are probable to experience snowballing glitches from apps that upload malware or exploit susceptibilities of operating systems, either unintentionally or purposely. This paves way for cyber offenders to use applications to set up a backdoor on these devices and use them for a variety of reasons, for example sending junk mails or recording keystrokes to raid bank information.
Today, major security concern lies in the use of social media. Popular social networking hubs such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and many other online platforms connect us together in a virtual society where each one of us can make the most out of our social freedom. Companies are increasingly re-allocating their budgets towards social networks instead of conventional marketing. Although there are several perks of sharing and communicating via social networks, it also has its share of risks. Cyber offenders are taking advantage of the carefree way that individuals use these platforms, typically with bait schemes that pose a serious threat to users with a single click on a hidden link.

Often small businesses employ the BYOD policy as a way to save expense on buying company devices, thishowever leaves them susceptible to cyber security risks. Moreover, employees also use office devices for their personal use putting critical company data at risk. According to recent statistics, 58% of all malware attack targets were categorized as small businesses and 60% of these small businesses fell victim to cyber attacks. Some of these companies suffered so much damage that they had to shut down entirely.
These are not small numbers when you think about it especially for businesses that are starting out or are still in their growing phase.

Cyber attacks not only cause monetary damage but can also be devastating in terms of reputation and customer trust.
All in all, we’ve repeatedly faced the costly and embarrassing consequences of not paying serious attention to security before. As we prepare to head over to a remarkable new era of communications, let’s learn from the previous mistakes and make security a topmost priority.

Staff Reporter

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