Our website uses cookies

Cookies enable us to provide the best experience possible and help us understand how visitors use our website. By browsing Infosecurity Magazine, you agree to our use of cookies.

Okay, I understand Learn more

#IPEXPO: Evolving Hacking Trends: Attackers Targeting Mobile Whilst Spamming Grows More Sophisticated

Speaking at IP EXPO Europe 2017 James Lyne, global head of security research at Sophos, presented a session on the current and evolving trends that cyber-criminals are implementing in their attacks.

He explained that whilst old techniques continue to be used and cause damage, there have been a few emerging trends this year that highlight that cyber-criminals continue to change and adapt their methods.

The first, he explained, has been a shift (albeit slight) to focus on mobile. 

Lyne said: “Many people have got used to the idea that mobile devices are invulnerable, so they don’t have to worry, but cyber-criminals have slowly been developing their capabilities and there have been a couple of examples [of mobile malware] recently that are worth paying attention to. It doesn’t mean that PC malware is going away and it’s all about phones, but it shows what people are starting to fall for.”

Lyne cited the example of new, malicious mobile apps that, whilst appearing to be legitimate and are available on official app stores, create back doors that can be exploited. 

“It’s something we need to keep an eye on,” he said. “As security professionals we should revisit our stance on these types of things periodically.”

It’s not just a problem of backdooring phones either, Lyne warned, adding that there has also been some movement with regards to fraud and mobile devices.

The ‘fraud bot’ is currently selling for around $275, he said, and it’s a “virtual machine phone that is designed to make it easy for cyber-criminals to bypass security checks.”

It has the ability to spoof hundreds of devices and configurations, show GPS as a fake location, spoof account holder details and telephone numbers and has banking/money transfer apps pre-installed.

“Just like we saw with mainstream cybercrime, mobile devices are getting some attention from cyber-criminals,” he warned.

Another emerging trend this year has been a development in spamming techniques, which are becoming better and more sophisticated. 

“The general quality of spam and scams is increasing, and it’s been a steady trend throughout this year. I’ve seen more and more scams where I’ve thought ‘Ooh, at the wrong moment, I could click on that’. As ever, cyber-criminals are good at using social engineering techniques to invoke clicks.”

One of the best techniques cyber-criminals seem to be using at the moment is hiding in plain sight by not tripping any of the filters of the security policy.

“Why write a long email, in prose, with the potential for spelling errors and dodgy links that people will recognize when you can say ‘My Resume’ and appeal to ambiguity, curiosity and give people few opportunities to detect that something is bad?

“Cyber-criminals are getting really good at this stuff”, he added.

What’s Hot on Infosecurity Magazine?