McAfee’s Advanced Threats Research team released its Mobile Threat Report 2021, which found hackers are using fake apps, Trojans and fraudulent messages to target consumers. Last year, McAfee revealed that hidden apps were the most active mobile threat facing consumers. But following a year of lockdowns and a surge in time spent online and on devices, fraudsters are capitalising on this with more approaches. With most of the world still anxious about COVID-19 and demand for vaccines high, McAfee’s research sheds light on how hackers are targeting these fears with bogus apps, text messages, and social media invitations.
“As people increasingly spend more time online owing to the pandemic and staying connected on their mobile devices, hackers are cashing in to target unsuspecting consumers. With the dramatic increase in threats and cybercriminals exploiting mobile devices, our ongoing effort is to ensure that we protect what is of paramount importance to consumers – their personal data.” said Venkat Krishnapur, vice-president of engineering and managing director, McAfee Enterprise, India. “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.”
Over the past year, the vaccine rollout has advanced at different rates across the globe, providing plenty of opportunities for hackers. McAfee Advanced Threat researchers found that hackers are hiding malware and malicious links inside fakes vaccination appointments and registration display ads. These have the potential to download malware onto a person’s device that displays unwanted ads, as well as activating accessibility features to give the hacker full device control, with the goal of stealing banking details and credentials. According to the research, some of these campaigns worryingly started as early as November last year, before any vaccines had officially been approved, while others continue to appear as countries roll out their vaccination programmes in the fight against COVID-19.
“We’ve seen how the pandemic not only led to an increased dependence on mobile devices, but how it has prompted bad actors into developing new ways of tricking consumers and stealing their personal data. As well as these advanced forms of malware and deceit, we’ve seen that hackers are also returning to billing scams, but using new tricks,” said Raj Samani, McAfee Fellow and Chief Scientist. “As consumers continue to carry out daily activities on-the-go, it is critical that they stay educated and proactive about protecting their personal data.”
The latest McAfee Mobile Threat Report 2021 highlights the following mobile threat trends: