Managing Threats of Cyber-Attacks on Mobile Devices

Academic Paper, 2017

12 Pages, Grade: 2





Literature review

Potential cyber-attack threats on mobile devices

How safe are the mobile devices when used for personal or business purposes?

How to manage threats of cyber-attacks on mobile device




Evidently, mobile phones and other mobile devices have taken over personal computers. They have become part of personal and business lives amongst the users. Regardless of they have brought unlimited challenges especially on issues of security. Cyber-attacks not only within individuals but also for businesses and government entities have threatened the welfare of mobile phones. Attacks on smartphones are on the high increase and quite sophisticated. This is quite alarming considering the fact that these devices are increasingly used to access and store sensitive personal information. In addition, they have also been used to conduct vital transactions such as in banking and online shopping. Vulnerability of attacks is high especially when attackers target unsuspecting users. Inasmuch as attacks target individuals, companies have also experienced similar threats that in the long run lead to massive losses whether as a result of breach of privacy and the risk of data loss or the resources used to secure the platforms. As a matter of fact, it has been estimated that cyber-attacks in mobile devices is very high as compared to personal computers. Nevertheless, the trend has been severed by ignorance of users who either fail to enable the security settings in their mobile devices or lack the resources to acquire more advanced mobile security. In overall, the industry has experienced laxity in providing up-to-date security technologies to secure mobile devices accordingly. Managing Threats of Cyber-Attacks on Mobile Devices


It is common knowledge that mobile devices have become important components of both business and personal lives. What started as the next generation of mobile phones have transformed into a mobile computer with combined capabilities of personal computers with hand held and mobile use (Shaulov, 2016). These devices have enough power to perform most of the functions of the PCs and have thus been targeted for cyber attacks by cyber criminals. According to Sheinis and Parker (2015), threats to mobile security has been on the rise as most mobile devices now have the capability of launching a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS attack) on the go. Equipped with large capacity storage, GBs of RAM and multiprocessor, most mobile devices can easily be used for DDoS attacks. Besides, these voices are increasingly vulnerable from SideSteppers and DroidJack which can be found in third-party stores. At the same time, they are also vulnerable to remote access from cyber criminals. This research paper adopted a qualitative approach based on the evaluation of past studies that has been conducted on the topic. In order to make valid conclusions, I will conduct a content analysis of several study reports. Using the content analysis procedure, the paper will attempt to answer the following research questions: What are the potential cyber-attack threats on mobile devices?; How safe are the mobile devices when used for personal or business purposes?; How to manage threats of cyber-attacks on mobile device?

Literature review

Based on studies, it has proved that over 90% of mobile users keep their devices within an arm’s reach most of the time (Wright, Dawson & Omar, 2012). In that regard, it can be ascertained that the mobile devices have largely revolutionized the contemporary life. They are increasingly used for both personal and business requirements. Smartphones or simply mobile phones with advanced capabilities similar to those of personal computers (PCs) are increasingly filling people’s pockets, purses and even briefcases. This has however been without its challenges. The increasing popularity of the smartphones has brought unrelenting harms in the industry. This is particularly the case especially considering security laxity in the area. Mobiles phones and more so advanced gadgets as in the case of smartphones have been considered as attractive targets for attacks. Based on studies, attacks on mobile devices and the accompanying Apps are overly on the rise (Yesilyurt & Yalman, 2016). This has generally been hampered by the fact that enterprises technically fall short in protecting corporate data within mobile apps and devices. It is estimated that a small fraction of companies (around 8%) enforces OS updates with less 5% applying App Reputation or Mobile Threat Detection software (Yesilyurt & Yalman, 2016).

Currently, smartphones have almost outsold PCs. It is in this view that attackers have taken advantage of the expanding market. To accomplish their malice practices, they use both old techniques and emerging ones to cause havoc in the industry. A typical example of serious mobile phones attack, the Valentine’s Day attack happened in year 2011 (Yeboah-Boateng & Amanor, 2014). In the attack, attackers succeeded in distributing a mobile picture-sharing application that in the process secretly sent premium-rate text messages from user’s mobile phones. In one study, from 2009 to 2010, the rate of vulnerabilities in the mobile operating systems increased tremendously. Inasmuch as the rate and sophistication of such attacks on mobiles escalates, countermeasures seem quite slow and incapable of catching up with the menace (Yeboah-Boateng & Amanor, 2014).

Typically, smartphones as well as personal digital assistants (PDAs) provide users with mobile opportunity to access their emails, internet, and GPS navigation alongside other major applications. Regardless of the increasing usage of mobile devices, smartphone security has failed to maintain the standards of traditional computer security. Such technical security measures like firewalls, antivirus and encryption are rare in mobile phones. Besides, mobile phone operating systems are never updated often as compared to those of personal computers (Wright, Dawson & Omar, 2012). In some instances, applications for social networking within mobile phones do not have detailed privacy controls in relation to the PC counterparts. It has however been noted that majority of smartphone users completely disregard the security inadequacies in their devices. This provides attack with the opportunity to unleash their terror to the unsuspecting users. Though in most cases the smartphones come with already installed security software, ignorant users fail to enable and activate it. Majority surf the internet in the belief that their phones are less vulnerable as compared to the PCs. In the real sense, mobile phones accomplish many tasks and as well store sensitive data, for instance, emails, contact information and passwords (Wright, Dawson & Omar, 2012). This is quite the case especially in the view of how the devices are used for social networking purposes which typically maintain high volumes of personal information. Emerging innovations in the field of mobile commerce has made possible for users to carryout financial transactions like purchasing of goods as well as vast applications over wireless networks. Other includes redeeming of coupons and tickets, processing point-of-sale payments, banking and even in paying in cash registers.

Potential cyber-attack threats on mobile devices

Although it has been said that mobile devices, like computers, pose a great threat to security in various parts of the world, the truth is that it is the people, and not the mobile devices, that is creating the threats. In most cases, it is humans using computers to victimize other mobile devices and mobile device users for their own good. Given space on the internet, computer hackers will increase the security threats exponentially. While there might be many definitions of hacking, hackers are generally considered to be individuals who use unauthorized means to break into computers and computer systems in order to destroy, change or steal information (Shaulov, 2016). In order to achieve their purposes, hackers will often install dangerous malware without the consent or knowledge of the mobile devices users. In order to achieve their objectives, hackers must be clever in their detail and tactics and must have excellent computer knowledge in order to access the information they want. Irrespective of the definition, hacking is considered to be a crime in many parts of the world. Hackers expose unsuspecting individuals to loss of personal information and economic inconvenience while also making it hard for the law enforcement agency to arrest and prosecute cyber criminals.

While most mobile devices users feel that they might be free from hackers, the reality is that any mobile devices users can be victims of hackers. Although the majority of hacking occurs online, where computer networks are used to facilitate the crime, even offline computer users are not safe. Indeed, most of the hacking takes place offline when the hackers use software to gain access to mobile devices and computer systems to gain access to various types of information, including the logging details and other personal information about the users (Shaulov, 2016). Once this personal information is acquired, the owner of such information is left at the mercy of the hackers. In most cases, the stolen information is used for the purposes of identity theft. Similarly, for individuals working online, the threat of hacking is still there. The internet is filled with individuals seeking to take advantage of unsuspecting internet users to enrich themselves. This is often done by using Wi-fi, Bluetooth or infrared the to gain access to the mobile devices belonging to individuals to get personal information such as bank details, credit card numbers, email passwords and much other personal information that can facilitate them to defraud their victims. Basically, hackers are close to many people more than they can imagine.


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Managing Threats of Cyber-Attacks on Mobile Devices
Egerton University
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managing, threats, cyber-attacks, mobile, devices
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Anthony Kithome (Author), 2017, Managing Threats of Cyber-Attacks on Mobile Devices, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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