5 Ways to Keep Your Mobile Phone Safe

Think about how it feels to lose your wallet. The money, the credit card, all the essential data you need to function in the world.

Now think about this: 57% of the mobile phone users we surveyed said their mobile phone contains more important information their wallet. MORE!

Over the last few years, our mobile phones have grown from a useful toy to our digital connection to world. Think about what’s on your phone’s hard drive. Your have your email, your phone numbers and contacts, texts. What else? You use it to bank, shop, enjoy apps and, in some places, even as your digital wallet.

F-Secure Labs has pointed how phishing scams are newly effectively on mobile phones. Bad apps, mobile botnets and spyware are no longer theoretical threats. Mobile malware that is designed to to seek make money grows more sophisticated all the time.

Is your phone as protected as it could be? Here are 5 ways you can secure your phone

1. Do not click links in your email.
Phishing scams are more powerful on mobiles and links can lead to scams or possibly even bad apps. You’d never click on an attachment from a stranger in your email. Think of links in emails the same way whether you’re on your phone or your PC.

2. For apps, stick to trusted marketplaces and vendors.
Apple’s walled garden method of approving all the apps in the iOS store has created a level of security that hasn’t been available on for Android users. There have been somewhat rare instances of bad apps showing up in the Android Marketplace, which is now Google Play. In general if you stick to the official marketplace, check reviews and research vendors you’ve never heard of, you’ll have a good chance of only installing safe apps.

3. Never install software you did not seek out.
Did you know QR codes can trigger an app install on your phone? The likeliest way you’ll get mobile malware is by installing it. So if any app asks to install itself without you intentionally seeking it out, immediately cancel if possible.

4. Lock your phone and put a remote wipe app on it.
Would you leave your open wallet lying around? You should always lock your phone the same way you lock your PC when you aren’t using it. For extra protection consider a remote-wipe software such as our free Anti-Theft for Mobile. It gives you the power to lock and erase your phone wherever you are.

5. Keep your system updated and get a quality security app if available.
You phone is a little computer. Old software can have vulnerabilities that can lead to mobile malware trouble. Take any software update your provider or phone manufacturers offer. And keep your apps updates. For the kind of protection for your mobile you’ve grown to expect for your PC, consider mobile security software. You can try F-Secure’s Mobile Security for free.

Cheers,

Jason

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WhatsApp Scams

WhatsApp Scams: 3 Things you Need to Know

F-Secure Labs reported this week on a new WhatsApp scam that’s successfully spammed over 22,000 people. Spam seems to be as old as the Internet itself, and is both a proven nuisance AND a lucrative source of revenue for spammers. Most people don’t see what goes on behind the scenes, but spammers often employ very sophisticated schemes that can expose web surfers to more than just ads for Viagara or other “magic beans”. Spam typically tries to drive Internet traffic by tricking people into clicking certain websites, where scammers can bombard unsuspecting web surfers with various types of advertising. Profit motives are what keep spammers working hard to circumvent spam blocks, white lists, and other protective measures that people use to try and fight back – and it can pay off. Numerous spammers have been indicted and suspected of generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue from their spam campaigns, with one study projecting that spammers could generate in excess of 3.5 million dollars annually. While most spam circulates via e-mail, the popularity of services like WhatsApp is giving spammers new resources to exploit people, and new ways to make money. Here’s a few ways spammers and cyber criminals are using WhatsApp to make money off users: Following Malicious Links: One way that cyber criminals use WhatsApp to scam people is to trick them into following malicious links. For example, a recent scam sent SMS messages to WhatsApp users telling them to follow a link to update the app. But the message was not from WhatsApp, and the link didn’t provide them with any kind of update. It signed them up for an additional service, and added a hefty surcharge to victims' phone bills. Sending Premium Rate Messages: Premium rate SMS sending malware was recently determined by F-Secure Labs to be the fastest growing mobile malware threat, and WhatsApp gives cyber criminals a new way to engage in this malicious behavior. Basically the users receive a message that asks them to send a response – “I’m writing to you from WhatsApp, let me know here if you are getting my messages”, “Get in touch with me about the second job interview”, and various sexual themed messages have all been documented. Responding to these messages automatically redirects your message through a premium rate service. Spanish police claim that one gang they arrested made over 5 million euros using this scheme – leaving everyday mobile phone users to foot the bill. Manipulating Web Traffic: A lot of spam tries to direct web traffic to make money off advertising. As you might imagine, this means they have to get massive numbers of people to look at the ads they’re using for their scams. Scammers use WhatsApp to do this by using the app to spread malware or social engineer large numbers of people to visit a website under false pretenses. F-Secure Labs found that people were being directed to a website for information on where they could get a free tablet. In March there was a global spam campaign claiming people could test the new WhatsApp calling feature. Both cases were textbook scams, and instead of getting new tablets or services, the victims simply wasted their time spreading misleading spam messages and/or exposing themselves to ads. WhatsApp and other services are great for people, but like any new software, requires a bit of understanding to know how to use. Hopefully these points give WhatsApp users a heads up on how they can avoid spam and other digital threats, so they can enjoy using WhatsApp to chat with their friends. [ Image by Julian S. | Flickr ]

May 8, 2015
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Cyber Espionage

Getting Cozy with Cyber Espionage

Espionage – it’s not just for James Bond type spies anymore. Cyber espionage is becoming an increasingly important part of global affairs, and a threat that companies and organizations handling large amounts of sensitive data are now faced with. Institutions like these are tempting targets because of the data they work with, and so attacks designed to steal data or manipulate them can give attackers significant advantages in various social, political and industrial theaters. F-Secure Labs’ latest malware analysis focuses on CozyDuke – an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) toolkit that uses combinations of tactics and malware to compromise and steal information from its targets. The analysis links it to other APTs responsible for a number of high-profile acts of espionage, including attacks against NATO and a number of European government agencies. CozyDuke utilizes much of the same infrastructure as the platforms used in these attacks, effectively linking these different campaigns to the same technology. “All of these threats are related to one another and share resources, but they’re built a little bit differently to make them more effective against particular targets”, says F-Secure Security Advisor Sean Sullivan. “The interesting thing about CozyDuke is that it’s being used against a more diverse range of targets. Many of its targets are still Western governments and institutions, but we’re also seeing it being used against targets based in Asia, which is a notable observation to make”. CozyDuke and its associates are believed to originate from Russia. The attackers establish a beachhead in an organization by tricking employees into doing something such as clicking a link in an e-mail that distracts users with a decoy file (like a PDF or a video), allowing CozyDuke to infect systems without being noticed. Attackers can then perform a variety of tasks by using different payloads compatible with CozyDuke, and this can let them gather passwords and other sensitive information, remotely execute commands, or intercept confidential communications. Just because threats like CozyDuke target organizations rather than individual citizens doesn’t mean that they don’t put regular people at risk. Government organizations, for example, handle large amounts of data about regular people. Attackers can use CozyDuke and other types of malware to steal data from these organizations, and then use what they learn about people for future attacks, or even sell it to cyber criminals. The white paper, penned by F-Secure Threat Intelligence Analyst Artturi Lehtiö, is free and available for download from F-Secure’s website.  [ Image by Andrew Becraft | Flickr ]

May 4, 2015
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