Porn Poses Biggest Threat To Mobile Devices

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New study reveals mobile attacks are more vicious than ever, with pornography the leading attack vector

Porn surfing on a mobile device is one of the biggest security threats to mobile users, a new study has revealed.

The 2015 State of Mobile Malware report from Blue Coat Systems also warned that mobile attacks are becoming increasingly vicious and disturbingly personal, with cyber blackmail (mobile ransomware attacks) taking the award for top malware type in 2015.

Mobile Threats

In 2014 Blue Coat found that mobile advertising had become the biggest threat to mobile users, with one fifth of all encounters with malware coming from malvertising, which involves the placement of malicious links on legitimate advertising networks.

And porn was a very busy attack vector last year as well.

But in 2015 things are a little different, as Blue Coat now says that over the past 12 months, porn has more than doubled and has replaced malvertising as the biggest threat vector on mobile devices.

Mobile malware virus security - Shutterstock - Julien TromeurIndeed, in 2014 pornography accounted for just 16 percent and now in 2015, it has increased to 36 percent (when Blue Coat sees a mobile user’s traffic heading to a malicious site, 36 percent of the time that user is following a link from a porn site).

And it seems that mobile attacks are becoming more vicious with ransomware, Potentially Unwanted Software (similar to spyware, but often disguised as antivirus software), and information leakage (where rogue apps monitor and report on your activities) are the top three most common mobile malware forms.

This backs up the findings from Lookout earlier this year after it warned about the growing threat of mobile ransomware. In the summer Kaspersky Labs said that smartphone users are facing a wider amount of threats than ever before as mobile malware increased threefold in the space of just three months.

Meanwhile Blue Coat also warned that victims of ransomware obtained through embarrassing sources, such as porn, are far less likely to report the ransomware to the IT department.

“As we sleep, exercise, work and shop with our mobile devices, cyber criminals are waiting to take advantage of the data these devices collect, as evidenced by the types of malware and attacks we’re seeing,” said Dr. Hugh Thompson, CTO and senior VP, Blue Coat.

“The implications of this nefarious activity certainly carry over to corporate IT as organisations rapidly adopt cloud-based, mobile versions of enterprise applications, opening up another avenue for attackers,” said Dr Thompson. “A holistic and strategic approach to managing risk must extend the perimeter to mobile and cloud environments – based on a realistic, accurate look at the problem – and deploy advanced protections that can prioritise and remediate sophisticated, emerging and unknown threats.”

Blue Coat lists risky behaviour for mobile users as online porn surfing; downloading apps from unofficial sources; searching for free or cracked versions of apps; jailbreaking a phone; and connecting to free or unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

Porn Warning

Blue Coat is not the only security vendor warning about the dangers of porn.

In September Malwarebytes warned that a number of porn sites had been targeted in malvertising attacks. It pointed to recent problems with porn website Xhamster, with its 500 million monthly visitors, that had been targeted by attackers.

It also said that PornHub and YouPorn’s combined 800 million users have also been subjected to an assault.

Earlier this year Bitdefender warned that Android users are at risk as having their mobile devices and private content locked by ransomware that demands $500 to restore access. Users who try to independently unlock their devices have seen the amount increase to $1,500, coupled with a bogus FBI warning about visiting porn websites.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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