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The Rise and Risks of Mobile Spyware

by Juniper Employee ‎05-07-2012 03:35 PM - edited ‎05-09-2012 04:50 AM

The total amount of known mobile malware has risen dramatically. From 2010 to 2011, Juniper Networks Mobile Threat Center identified a 155 percent increase in threats to mobile devices. However, no other category of mobile security threats is growing as quickly as Spyware.

 

In fact, in the first three months of 2012, Spyware targeting mobile devices has doubled. To put this in perspective, Juniper has discovered nearly the same amount of Spyware from January to March of 2012 as we have in the last eight years combined.

                       

While it is common knowledge that Spyware exists on laptops and personal computers, many do not realize it is possible for Spyware to reside on a tablet or smartphone and steal sensitive personal, professional and financial information – all without the user’s knowledge.

 

For mobile devices, Spyware predominantly comes in two forms:

  1. Trojans hidden within games and other applications that are unknowingly installed by users
  2. Commercially-available Spyware purchased by third party with the intention of secretly monitoring the activities and data on that mobile device

Today, people are downloading more mobile applications than ever before. However, according to the findings from Juniper’s Trusted Mobility Index, the majority of mobile users are not taking the necessary precautions to ensure these applications are secure.

 

The report found that less than half of mobile users are reading the terms and conditions before initiating an application download, manually setting data security features and settings for applications or researching applications to ensure they are trustworthy. 

 

And as people increasingly bring their personal devices into the workplace, this creates a major risk for business.

 

Spyware discovered to-date has the ability to:

  • Capture and transmit mobile banking and other account login credentials
  • Monitor and forward e-mail and text messages
  • Obtain and send business documents and files stored on a device
  • Log keyboard characters as they are typed (including passwords and account numbers)
  • Listen into phone conversations
  • Act as a microphone to secretly broadcast meetings  and voice conversations within hearing distance of a device
  • Track the location of a mobile device

This unique mix of rapidly growing Spyware-laden applications, pervasive mobile-device usage and lack of security controls impacts every type of user, company and government agency. 

 

To protect against this threat, Juniper recommends:

  • Educating users and IT administrators about the threat of Spyware
  • Ensuring mobile devices are protected with on-device mobile security software that has the ability to detect, alert and remove mobile Spyware
  • Implementing technologies to ensure that enterprises are only allowing mobile devices whose overall security posture is sufficient to access corporate resources

 For additional information on Spyware and other mobile security threats, go to www.Juniper.net/Security.

 

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