MARCH 14, 2014
Your regular source of security updates from TrendLabsSM
In This Issue

Security Spotlight
A Look at the Mobile Cybercriminal Underground

Security for Home Users
Checking Out the Security of Messaging Apps

Security for Business
The Enterprise Fights Back: Building Threat Intelligence



Security Spotlight

A Look at the Mobile Cybercriminal Underground

Mobile attacks are supported by a sophisticated underground market that specifically caters to targeting mobile devices.”



Concerns about mobile safety have been making headlines over the past couple of years, with alerts that warn against the latest mobile threats. These aren’t just random random acts of cybercrime though, but attacks that are supported by a sophisticated underground market that specifically caters to targeting mobile devices.

Tools and Services Offered in the Underground Market

While some cybercriminals create their own tools for their malicious attacks, others rely on underground markets to buy existing tools and services. The mobile underground market caters to bad guys who want to profit from infecting and targeting mobile devices. The tools and services may vary but they all serve one goal—to prey on unsuspecting mobile users.

In our 2013 security roundup, we said premium service abusers were the top mobile threat type of the year. Premium service abusers subscribe victims to premium services without their consent, leaving them with exorbitant charges. Premium service numbers fetch high prices underground. Six-digit premium numbers can, in fact, fetch as much as US$36,000.

Most services, including those related to email and online banking, now use text messages for authentication and verification purposes like password resetting and registration. Cybercriminals are interested in these because they contain valuable information. That’s why they sell Short Message Service (SMS) forwarders, Trojans that steal authentication and verification codes sent via text messages by intercepting and forwarding them to a specific number. These then delete all traces of their presence, leaving victims unaware of what happened.

Other tools and services are also offered underground. These include SMS spamming services and tools, iMessage spamming services and software, phone-number-scanning services, and even app-rank-boosting services. The wide range of options shows that cybercriminals are willing to try just about anything to infect mobile devices.

Protecting Your Mobile Device

Protecting your mobile device should be a top priority, especially with all the valuable information you store in it. Always remember the following tips and safety practices:

  • Download apps from official stores as much as possible. Third-party app stores are usually home to Trojanized and malicious apps. If you can’t access official app stores in your region, make sure you scrutinize app details before downloading one.

  • Check the permissions an app requires before installing it. Scrutinizing permissions can give you a good idea if an app is asking for too much.

  • Avoid clicking links in text messages or downloading files from unknown sources. These can lead to malicious sites and malware downloads.

  • Apply the latest software and platform updates as soon as you can. These can help you protect your device from attacks.

  • Use your device’s built-in security features. You can also boost your device’s security by using a trusted solution.

For more information on the budding mobile cybercriminal underground market in China, read the report, “The Mobile Cybercriminal Underground Market in China.”

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