Cybercriminals targeting mobile devices

As convenient as mobile devices, such as tablet computers and smartphones, are, data cybercriminals are finding ways to unleash viruses through them.

Russian international software security group Kaspersky Lab's 2015 Security Bulletin said many cybercriminals sent out fake emails and notifications from mobile apps via mobile devices. These messages and notifications typically contained malware or advertising. Malware is now being sent in apk (Android executive files) or .jar (ZIP archives containing a program in Java) formats.

"The increased use of mobile devices in our everyday life to exchange messages and data, as well as access and control bank accounts, has also resulted in increased exploitation opportunities for cybercriminals," Kaspersky Lab Spam Analysis Expert Daria Loseva said. "Mobile malware and fraudulent spam is becoming more popular and efforts to dupe victims are becoming more sophisticated year on year, with the emergence of apps that can be used by cybercriminals both directly (for sending out spam, including malicious spam) and indirectly (via phishing emails). Mobile device users therefore need to be on their guard and remain vigilant, as cybercriminal activities in this area are only likely to increase, along with our reliance on devices."

Nigeria was the source of a large percentage of cyber fraud in 2015. Cybercriminals in Nigeria attempted to dupe donations from victims using the Ukrainian political situation, the civil war in Syria, Nigeria's election and the earthquake in Nepal as bait.

Last year also saw cybercriminals sending mobile encryption Trojans behind files that contained Flash Player updates. Once launched, any files (documents, videos, audio files, photographs and images) on the device are encrypted by malware, with users receiving a message notifying them that to decrypt their files they must pay a fee.

Phishing emails are still a concern, the bulletin added. These emails, seeking private information, were most often sent to banks, payment system providers and online shopping sites.

Nations from which the most spam originated in 2015 were the United States (15.2 percent), Russia (6.15 percent) and China (6.12 percent). Most spam attacks were received by users in Germany (19.06 percent).

The most recent Kaspersky Lab Security Bulletin is available online at Kaspersky.co.za.

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