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Malware targets smartphones

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According to Kaspersky Lab, the volume of spam e-mails in 2015 decreased to 55.28% of overall e-mail traffic. The slump can be attributed to the increasing popularity of legal advertising platforms on social networks, and coupon clipping services.

Among other trends identified in the Kaspersky Lab spam report are the following. Over three quarters (79%) of all emails sent were less than 2kb, which shows a steady decrease in email size for spam campaigns over the past few years. Financial institutions such as banks, payment systems and online shops were attacked most often with phishing emails (34.33%, a rise of 5.59%).

In 2015, cybercriminals continued to send out fake emails from mobile devices and notifications from mobile apps containing malware or advertising messages. New tactics included fraudsters spreading malware in the form of .apk (Android executive files) and .jar (ZIP archives containing a programme in Java). In addition, cybercriminals masked a mobile encryption Trojan behind a file containing updates for Flash Player. After launching, the malware encrypted images, documents and video files stored on the device with users receiving a message telling them to pay a fee in order to  decrypt the files.

“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. 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”, warns Daria Loseva, Spam Analysis Expert at Kaspersky Lab.

The US remained the biggest source of spam (15.2%), with second place taken by Russia (6.15%) and China making way for Vietnam in third spot (6.12%). Germany was the biggest victim with 19.06% of spam attacks – a 9.84% increase on 2014, followed by Brazil at 7.64% which posted a 4.09% increase and moved up from sixth place in 2014. Russia moved up to third place from eighth, an increase of 3.06% to 6.03% of all spam attacks in 2015.

Hot spam topics of the year:

Although the Olympic games in Brazil has yet to take place, fraudsters have already started to exploit the event, sending emails announcing false lottery wins and asking the recipient to fill in a form with their personal details. In these attacks, emails with pdf attachments, pictures and other graphical elements were designed to fool the spam filters.

“Nigerian” fraud used the Ukrainian political situation, the Syrian civil war, the election in Nigeria and the earthquake in Nepal to exploit the kindness and empathy of recipients with believable email content. These emails contained content calling for material support for a person in need.

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Samsung unfolds the future

At the #Unpacked launch, Samsung delivered the world’s first foldable phone from a major brand. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK tried it out.

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Everything that could be known about the new Samsung Galaxy S10 range, launched on Wednesday in San Francisco, seems to have been known before the event.

Most predictions were spot-on, including those in Gadget (see our preview here), thanks to a series of leaks so large, they competed with the hole an iceberg made in the Titanic.

The big surprise was that there was a big surprise. While it was widely expected that Samsung would announce a foldable phone, few predicted what would emerge from that announcement. About the only thing that was guessed right was the name: Galaxy Fold.

The real surprise was the versatility of the foldable phone, and the fact that units were available at the launch. During the Johannesburg event, at which the San Francisco launch was streamed live, small groups of media took turns to enter a private Fold viewing area where photos were banned, personal phones had to be handed in, and the Fold could be tried out under close supervision.

The first impression is of a compact smartphone with a relatively small screen on the front – it measures 4.6-inches – and a second layer of phone at the back. With a click of a button, the phone folds out to reveal a 7.3-inch inside screen – the equivalent of a mini tablet.

The fold itself is based on a sophisticated hinge design that probably took more engineering than the foldable display. The result is a large screen with no visible seam.

The device introduces the concept of “app continuity”, which means an app can be opened on the front and, in mid-use, if the handset is folded open, continue on the inside from where the user left off on the front. The difference is that the app will the have far more space for viewing or other activity.

Click here to read about the app experience on the inside of the Fold.

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Password managers don’t protect you from hackers

Using a password manager to protect yourself online? Research reveals serious weaknesses…

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Top password manager products have fundamental flaws that expose the data they are designed to protect, rendering them no more secure than saving passwords in a text file, according to a new study by researchers at Independent Security Evaluators (ISE).

“100 percent of the products that ISE analyzed failed to provide the security to safeguard a user’s passwords as advertised,” says ISE CEO Stephen Bono. “Although password managers provide some utility for storing login/passwords and limit password reuse, these applications are a vulnerable target for the mass collection of this data through malicious hacking campaigns.”

In the new report titled “Under the Hood of Secrets Management,” ISE researchers revealed serious weaknesses with top password managers: 1Password, Dashlane, KeePass and LastPass.  ISE examined the underlying functionality of these products on Windows 10 to understand how users’ secrets are stored even when the password manager is locked. More than 60 million individuals 93,000 businesses worldwide rely on password managers. Click here for a copy of the report.

Password managers are marketed as a solution to eliminate the security risks of storing passwords or secrets for applications and browsers in plain text documents. Having previously examined these and other password managers, ISE researchers expected an improved level of security standards preventing malicious credential extraction. Instead ISE found just the opposite. 

Click here to read the findings from the report.

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