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Stalkerware and mobile advertising Trojans rank as top mobile threats

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Company: Kaspersky Labs Inc

Mobile advertising Trojans and stalkerware rose significantly in 2019, increasingly jeopardizing the personal data of smartphone users. According to Kaspersky’s annual “Mobile Malware Evolution” report, Mobile Advertising Trojans experienced double-digit growth in terms of the number of detected installation packages, while stalkerware targeted mobile users significantly more often than in 2018.

Amid growing concerns about digital privacy in recent years, there are overlooked risks to mobile devices, which have turned into transportable containers of personal data. Kaspersky statistics demonstrate that two of the most actively evolving mobile threats of 2019 – mobile adware and stalkerware – present serious privacy issues.

Mobile adware collects troves of private information to show users targeted banner ads. In addition, victims’ sensitive data could end up on third-party servers without consent or knowledge. In the past year, 21% of all mobile threats observed by Kaspersky were related to Adware.

Stalkerware consists of commercial spyware applications, usually installed on devices without users’ knowledge or consent, that stay hidden, operating in the background. These applications have access to significant amounts of personal data, such as device location, browser history, text messages, social media chats, photos and more. They not only share sensitive information with an abuser, but there is also room for a third-party hacker to gain access to stalkerware servers and collect all of this information for their own purposes. Stalkerware is of growing interest to malicious users, according to Kaspersky’s data. Over the past year, attacks on the personal data of mobile device users increased from 40,386 unique users attacked in 2018 to 67,500 in 2019.

“In 2019, attacks by stalkerware, which aims to track the victim and collect private information about them, became much more frequent,” said Victor Chebyshev, security expert at Kaspersky. “What is even more important, the technical development of this type of attack does not lag behind its malicious counterparts. Given that, we would like to reiterate that digital privacy is just as much a person’s right as any other. And there are ways to keep personal data safe and secure. But to do so, it is very important to treat this issue with care.”

To reduce the risk of infection and to stay protected, Kaspersky experts advise consumers to pay attention to the apps installed on personal devices and avoid downloading apps from unknown sources. Mobile device users should also keep devices updated and regularly run a system scan to check for possible infections.

Kaspersky also recommends that users install a reliable security solution like Kaspersky Security Cloud on their device, which aims to protect users’ privacy and personal information from mobile threats. The service also checks whether your privacy has been compromised using the “Account Check” function.

Read more about the evolution of mobile threats in 2019 on Securelist.com


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