Protecting Users and Enterprises from the Mobile Malware Threat

Published: 2015-11-09
Last Updated: 2015-11-09 21:47:36 UTC
by John Bambenek (Version: 1)
3 comment(s)

With recent news of mobile malicious adware that "roots" smartphones, attention is again being paid to mobile security and the malware threat that is posed to it. While mobile ransomware is also a pervasive and growing threat, there are mobile RATs (such as JSocket and OmniRAT) that are also able to take full remote control of mobile devices.  Some of the functionality of those tolls includes the ability to use the microphone to listen in on victims and to view whatever is in front of the camera while the unsuspected victims goes about their day.

It's important to realize that mobile malware, in essence, is just a question of apps.  Even in the adware "rooting" apps above, it all still begins with installing an application which means there are some defined ways users and enterprises can protect themselves.  The other danger is that most of the time, these devices are on the cellular network so they operate outside all of the network protective technologies an enterprise has to detect, if not prevent, compromise.  Here is a quick list of what users and enterprises can do. 

For users:

  • Never install applications outside of the mobile "app" stores (i.e. Google Play, Apple's App Store)
  • Ensure that smartphones are set to NOT install apps from unverified sources
  • Do NOT root/jailbreak your phones as this removes a great deal of the security features
  • Observe what permissions applications are requesting on install and reject those that want the Christmas Tree list of permissions (i.e. all of them)
  • Install a mobile anti-malware solution of your choosing

For enterprises:

  • For phones under your control, ensure all the above are set and are unmodifiable by the end-user
  • Provide users in sensitive positions a corporate provided phone so that you can do the above and restrict sensitive information to the corporate phone
  • Provide a BYOD network for personal mobile devices and monitor that network for indicators of compromise and respond accordingly.  Encourage users to use that network.

What else would you add to this list?

John Bambenek
bambenek\at\ gmail /dot/ com
Fidelis Cybersecurity

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