What have we learned about mobile security in 2020?

Whether we like it or not, it is now an established fact that mobile phones play a major role in our day-to-day life, and never has this been truer than in 2020. With opportunities for socializing and travel reduced, it has been a year of scrolling, messaging and video calling. While there is a general perception that mobile phones are a safe haven from malware and cyberthreats, ESET’s research this year has shown that to be far from the truth.

Android threats surged in March, as the COVID-19 crisis created an opportunity for threat actors to exploit Android users’ hunger for information about the virus and related topics. ESET researchers witnessed malicious apps distributed in campaigns under coronavirus-themed disguises, such as infection maps, tracking applications and information about financial compensation.

For example, in Q2 2020, ESET researchers identified a new Android crypto-ransomware posing as a Canadian COVID-19 tracing app, just days after the Canadian government announced its intention to back the development of a nationwide tracing app. ESET researchers also analyzed an extremely dangerous Android app in May called DEFENSOR ID, which was capable of wiping out a victim’s bank account or cryptocurrency wallet and taking over their email or social media accounts.

In July, a long-running cyberespionage campaign was discovered that targeted Android users in the Middle East via the malicious Welcome Chat app. The app’s operators spied on their victims and then made the data harvested from them freely available on the internet. Similarly, victims in the Middle East were also targeted with a new version of Android spyware used by the APT-C-23 group, which allowed threat actors to read notifications from messaging apps and record calls and screen activity.

These discoveries demonstrate that threats must be taken seriously, but they do not need to ruin our experience with mobile phones – it is vital that we are just as committed to protecting our phones with cybersecurity software as we are our laptops and desktops. ESET Mobile Security (EMS) is a solution for Android that protects against a multitude of mobile threats, securing users’ data through strong malware protection and providing a safe browsing environment with its anti-phishing feature. EMS also protects users from physical loss and theft, supplying real-time information about the status and whereabouts of the device in question.

In September of this year, version 6.0 of ESET Mobile Security was launched, adding a host of new features including Payment Protection, which safeguards users while they are using applications in which they access sensitive financial information for banking transactions or online shopping. The feature prevents other apps replacing or reading the screen of any applications installed from the Google Play store that fall into the finance category, also allowing users to use the same protection for other installed apps that fall outside of the finance category.

Version 6.0 also brought design changes, improving its intuitiveness and ease of use with features such as the Call Filter feature that allows users to protect against unwanted incoming calls and a redesign of the Anti-Theft feature to allow for simpler onboarding and resetting of passwords.

The year 2020 also saw ESET awarded certificates by MRG Effitas, a world leader in independent IT security efficacy testing, in their Android 360° Assessment Programmes in Q1, Q2 and Q3, receiving a 99%+ score for detection. As both the report and ESET’s research highlight, Android-based threats are constantly on the rise, and it is therefore vital to have software installed that protects against malware, as well as other threats such as phishing.

To find out more about ESET Mobile Security and how it can keep you and your phone safe from mobile threats, head over to ESET’s website.


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