The Internet as we very well know is free to access, as long as you have data connection on your device. It should therefore come as no surprise that such luxury afforded to the whole world would be abused in some way. There are several ways the Internet is abused but the one which poses a lot of threat to lives and properties is cybercrime.
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Dependence of Individuals and Businesses on the “abused” Internet
Cybercrime is as old as the Internet itself and has evolved in several ways – with cyber criminals employing new technologies and tricks in deploying their attacks. The 21st century has seen a large dependence of businesses and individuals on the Internet due to the large number of opportunities and benefits it affords – for productivity, efficiency, and collaboration. This level of dependency isn’t reducing by the day despite the increasing number of cyber threats and cyberattacks faced by Internet users.
According to a study conducted by Pew Research Center, 100% of people within the ages of 18-29 carry a mobile phone while an estimated 95% of people all around the world own a mobile phone. Since this age makes a substantial number of people in the workforce, some institutions have incorporated a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy.
Mobile Devices are also at risk.
As mobile devices are becoming rather prevalent, so are the risks associated with them. Not so long ago, laptops and PCs were the major targets for cyberattacks – most of these stemming from viruses and malware. Since mobile phones and tablets are now ubiquitous, a lot more focus has been directed by cybercriminals at these devices making every mobile device user susceptible to cyberattacks.
Of the two popular mobile OS providers, Android and iOS, the latter has been proven to be more advanced in terms of securing their users from cyberattacks. The security prowess of both devices may be attributed to the fact that while iOS places a lot of restriction on access to their operating system, Android, on the other hand, is open-source making them less secure.
Security Risks attributed with Mobile Devices
Despite the security features both of them might possess, they still face some security risks, and below are some of them:
- Network Spoofing: Here, attackers create Wi-Fi networks with an SSID similar to that of a high-traffic public location in order to get unsuspecting users to connect. Once their victims connect to the network, all traffic data sent from the users’ phone will be revealed to them and can be used for their malicious purposes.
- Madware: Madware, short for mobile adwares are scripts or programs installed along with an application that serve unsolicited ads to the users’ phones without their consent. These madwares usually come with spyware which track and reveal internet browsing history to a third party.
- Phishing Apps: Phishing has long taken a new dimension as everyone is quite familiar with the old tricks perpetrated by cybercriminals. Email clients have even beefed up security protocols, marking emails that seem to be from an untrusted source as spam. These days, attackers design applications that look genuine and request for personal details of unsuspecting users.
While these are risks common to all mobile users, below are two risks peculiar to Android OS users:
- Insufficient protection at the Transport Layer: Most Android applications fail to encrypt network data and backend connections which could potentially expose a session or token for exploitation by hackers.
- Binary Protection: Jailbreaking an Android device can be done by anyone with average technical expertise. This feature allows for malicious code to run deep into the device and alter its application logic in order to commit criminal activities.
Knowing how to stay safe against these threats is also important. Outlined below are a couple of them:
- Get a VPN software for Android or iOS device in order to encrypt your network – especially on public networks.
- Avoid downloading email attachments from unknown sources.
- Verify the publisher of an application before downloading and installing it on your device.