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Mobile devices the new front in threat war

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A Trend Micro Threat Security Roundup for the second quarter of 2013 has highlighted details on how the security threat landscape has changed over the last quarter and how mobile device concerns remain the number one security threat.

In last year’s final roundup we saw that the post-PC era is upon us and cybercriminals are now embracing mobile malware use, a trend that has continued to remain a major problem for users in the last quarter as these criminals are becoming more and more sophisticated.

‚”Our most recent threat report shows that cybercriminals have absolutely no regard for the privacy of Google Android smartphone and tablet users, as our Trend analysts tracked 718,000 separate instances of high-risk Android apps in the second quarter, up from 509,000 high-risk apps found in the first three months of this year,‚” states Gregory Anderson, country manager at Trend Micro, South Africa. ‚”Based on these figures we estimate that the number of high-risk Android applications available on the market will exceed million by the end of 2013.‚”

The rise of the risks associated to Android devices is directly hinged around the discovery of OBAD malware and ‚”master key‚” vulnerabilities that has enabled cybercriminals to find ways to exploit flaws in the Android ecosystem.

Online banking also remains a sweet spot for cybercriminals, with the threat report revealing that this quarter the online banking threat count increased by nearly a third compared to last quarter, mostly affecting users from United States, Brazil, Australia, and France, although South Africa also featured strongly in the report.

According to Anderson the report distinctly highlights that cybercriminals have also come up with more diverse attacks where they have specifically used various social engineering lures, single sign-on (SSO) and multiprotocol services, as well as blogging platforms. It also shows that vulnerability disclosure also became a hot topic this quarter in response to the flurry of zero-day incidents at the beginning of the year.

‚”Our security is constantly under threat and it simply isn’t enough to invest in technology to assist you once and then believe you are secure. With the ever changing threat landscape, coming from elements such as application developers, advertising networks and social media services, we need to be even more vigilant than before,‚” states Anderson.

‚”To this end the report reveals that South Africa is the seventh most at risk to privacy exposure as a result of mobile app use, bringing home the fact that these threats are as big a risk to us here locally than they are to those abroad,‚” he adds.

While security solutions are available for mobile devices, there seems to be less of an urgency by end users and enterprises to adopt these, than say their PC counterparts. This can be evidenced in the fact that only three in ten devices in the US actually have any form of security application installed.

‚”If the report shows us anything it is that the time to take mobile security seriously is now. Particularly in an era where businesses are enabling and deploying BYOD policies and providing employees the platform to bring these devices into the corporate environment, thus opening up your business to these self same threats,‚” ends Anderson.

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