Mobile threats: Pandemic related malware on the rampage

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July 01, 2021 8:16 AM

McAfee’s latest Mobile Threat Report finds hackers capitalising on pandemic fears to target unsuspecting consumers

mobile threatMcAfee researchers found evidence of an SMS worm targeting Indian consumers, forming one of the earliest vaccine fraud campaigns

As people increasingly spend more time online due to the pandemic, hackers are ambushing unsuspecting consumers. Early this week, McAfee’s Advanced Threats Research team released its Mobile Threat Report 2021, which discussed how hackers are using fake apps, Trojans and fraudulent messages to target consumers. At the end of 2020 (Q4), total mobile malware detected by McAfee reached 43 million, with over three million of these detections being new.

Venkat Krishnapur, VP-engineering and managing director, McAfee Enterprise, India, said, “As fraudsters continue to experiment with newer methods and advanced techniques to bypass security screening, we aim to assist consumers by guiding them to remain vigilant and raise awareness on the importance of safeguarding their data and personal devices.”

Some of the mobile threat trends:

McAfee researchers found evidence of an SMS worm targeting Indian consumers, forming one of the earliest vaccine fraud campaigns. Both SMS and WhatsApp messages encouraged users to download a vaccine app and once downloaded, malware sent itself to everyone in the user’s contact list via SMS or WhatsApp.

Targeting users in Southwest Asia and the Middle East predominately, mobile malware Etinu was found being distributed via Google Play Store, with more than 700K downloads before being detected and removed. Once an app harbouring this malware is installed, the malware steals incoming SMS messages using a Notification Listener function. It can then make purchases and sign up for premium services and subscriptions that get charged to the user’s account.

McAfee Mobile Security detected 141% rise in Banking Trojan activity between Q3 and Q4 2020. It discovered Brazilian Remote Access Tool Android (BRATA) – a banking Trojan – that repeatedly managed to get onto the Google Play store and tricked users into downloads.

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