Mobile malware statistics and trends in 2020

Coming soon to a small screen near you – “Mobile Malware in 2020 – Is No Mobile Phone Safe?” That sounds like a cheesy horror movie, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, this is not a movie that’s fun to pick to pieces, it’s the real world.

In fact, statistics show that there are more than 350,000 pieces of new malware daily.

While the overall number of types of malware has decreased in total, there are still millions of potent viruses out there. And this year we can expect a more determined assault on our mobile devices.

Why? It’s simple – who doesn’t have a good antivirus program installed on their computers? Most of us do, and most of us know that we must let it update daily. That minimizes the chances of malware getting a strong foothold.

But what about our mobile phones? Mobile phones are a very attractive target. Considering the wide range of devices out there and the number of manufacturers, mobile phones can be an easy score.

Why? Your larger brands, like Samsung and Apple, have highly developed security protocols. Not all manufacturers offer the same level of protection, though. Whereas Apple, for example, makes updating software mandatory, Android devices generally leave updating up to the user.

This makes it possible for users to miss vital security patches and updates. It also makes mobile phones an easier target for hackers.

In this post, we’ll look over what mobile malware threats we can expect in 2020.

Expect more aggressive attacks

2019 was a bumper year for mobile devices and malware. Phobos ransomware struck fear into the hearts of security experts across the globe. We also saw some particularly nasty malware like Adame and CMD.

Buckle up; this year’s going to get even bumpier as hackers start to turn their focus to mobile phones. We’ll see an increase in the number of ransomware attacks and far more aggressive malware coming through.

Expect a new Cold War

The tech race between China and the United States has reached a fever pitch. That, Combined with the current trade wars, is creating a recipe for hacker mayhem.

Expect to see attacks launched by both sides with the aim of damaging the other country’s progress.

Hackers are using Fake News

Everyone loves a good story. Who can resist sharing the latest Coronavirus statistics, for example? Fake news travels at the speed of light and hackers are taking advantage of this. Now’s a good time to kick your habit of debunking fake news stories.

Hackers may embed malware into these stories, and the websites they link to. This isn’t a new tactic, but it’s one that’s becoming increasingly popular as people are starting to take cybercrime more seriously. This year we expect a lot of fake news about big corporations with hackers leveraging brand power to spread malware.

Mobile banking malware is increasing

We’re seeing a lot more targeted attacks now. Mobile banking malware attacks increased by 58% in 2019, and there’s no sign of them slowing down. These attacks are aimed at stealing money from accounts but are increasingly able to be used as a way to steal other credentials too. What’s particularly frightening is that these attacks can overcome some forms of two-factor authentication.

Protecting yourself going forward

Ransomware is the largest mobile malware attack threat going forward. That said, we could probably all take better steps towards securing our phones. Here’s where you can start:

Be careful about the “news” sites and stories that you click on. It’s safest to stick to reputable news sites like the BBC, Al Jazeera, and CNN. You can also go through to a site like Snopes to verify the validity of the story. If in doubt, skip the story and don’t share it.

Make sure that your phone software is completely up to date. Set automatic updates if possible. Do the same with the apps that you use regularly. They could also contain bugs that need patching later.

Encrypt the data on your phone. Don’t mod your phone. This, again, is where Apple has an advantage over Android. Android allows you to make changes to the operating system of your phone. Apple doesn’t. Don’t modify your phone’s OS unless you know what you’re doing. You could be opening up an avenue of attack for malware.

Back your data up. That way, if your phone is locked because of ransomware, you have access to the information that you need. It’s also not a bad idea to set money aside in case of an attack. That way you can pay the ransom or replace the phone easily.

Consider multi-factor authentication and use biometric authentication where possible. It could also help to have the authentication keys sent to an email address that’s not accessible from your phone. It’s a pain, but it helps if your phone is cloned or the sim is swapped.

Stop downloading apps. By that, we mean all apps. If you don’t know the company creating the app directly, don’t download the app. Apps often contain malware. Clever hackers create a “clean” app and then download malware in the form of updates.

Final notes

Cybercrime is a rampant industry. There are many threats out there. 2020 is the year that we need to start learning more about protecting against mobile malware.


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