1 – Researchers have found many cheaper phones already infected with malware before you even get them. This provides a bridge for hackers later on.
2 – To ease drop on your calls. People use their phones to speak to loved ones, discuss business plans, talk about their travels—all manner of personal, intimate content. So, it’s not surprising that criminals would want to break in and listen, whether to case a target or simply for voyeuristic pleasure. But how do they do it?
3 – Steal your money Ransomware doesn’t only affect computers. There’s a recent trend of mobile ransomware, which often originates from malicious, third-party apps promised to optimize the Android system but actually tricked people into transferring money from their PayPal accounts. The login process was legitimate, so it wasn’t a phishing attempt. However, once people logged in, a Trojan automated the PayPal transfer.
4 – To blackmail people. The crime of blackmail isn’t new, but threat actors recognize that the small computer in people’s pockets and purses likely has more personal information stored in it than a desktop or laptop. And they are able to first cut people off from accessing their phones before then threatening to leak the information they find.
5 – To damage your phone. Hackers feel they’ve accomplished a goal by causing chaos for victims. One way to do that is to make the phone overheat and ultimately ruin it. Security researchers warned that hackers could break into a phone’s processor and use it for mining cryptocurrency. In addition to making the phone slow down, it can also cause the phone to get too hot or even blow up!
6 – To threaten national security. Countless analysts have chimed in to say that government officials alleged use of insecure mobile devices could help foreign adversaries glean information about the United States that could threaten the nation or at least give information about the country’s intended actions. Imagine if someone broke into a high-ranking politician’s twitter account and began sending threatening messages or eavesdropping on conversations.
7 – Just for fun. Hackers get a thrill by successfully pulling off their attacks. Hacking is a source of entertainment for them, as well as an ego boost.
8 – To get payment information. E-wallets, which store payment information inside smartphone apps so people don’t have to carry real credit or debit cards, are convenient. However, their rising popularity has given hackers another reason to target phones.
9 – Because so many people use one. Since hackers want their attacks to have significant payoffs, they know they can up their chances of having a major impact by targeting smartphones. Information published by the Pew Research Center shows 95 percent of Americans own smartphones.
10 – Because its an easy target. Research shows that mobile apps have rampant security problems. This gives criminals ample opportunity to infiltrate insecure apps rather than the phones themselves.
How to Stay Protected.
One easy way to protect against attacks is to avoid third-party app stores and only download content from the phone’s legitimate app stores, such as Google Play or iTunes..
It’s also smart to keep tabs on phone statistics, such as battery life and the number of running apps. If those deviate too much from the norm, that’s a sign that hackers may be up to no good in the background.
Running a mobile antivirus scan at least monthly, or installing an always-on cybersecurity program is another good strategy. (I recommend Malwarebytes for both Android and IOS)
Instead of being overeager to download new apps, people should ideally exercise caution and only do so if numerous sources of feedback indicate they are free from major security flaws.
Besides these more specific tips, it’s essential for people to be highly aware of how they interact with their phones. For example, strange pop-ups or redirects in a phone’s browser, or random icons appearing without having downloaded a new app could indicate problems, and individuals should not assume that everything’s okay.
Remember, your phone gets software updates too. So, check for them. There is typically a “Check for updates” somewhere in the settings of your smartphone.
[i] Kayla Mathews – Tech journalist covering AI, the IoT, and cybersecurity)