phone hacking

Mobile phone hacking myth or reality?

Political and investigative journalists, media personalities or just ordinary citizens who want to test their own partners. All these people are susceptible to being spied upon by their mobile phone in case of phone hacking, leaving the way open for actions ranging from capturing conversations, recording videos, photos or geolocation to control all information contained in the device.

In the last year mobile malware has been detected in both Google Play and Apple’s App Store. Criminals found several ways to circumvent security measures of the two app stores to spread infections to mobile devices of its members.

A 2015 study by Check Point, the largest global supplier specializing in security, revealed that one out of every 1,000 devices had been infected with mobile surveillance systems and mobile remote access Trojans (mRATs). While more than half of infected devices were based on Android, 47% were iOS devices, challenging the belief that iOS is inherently safer. Another revealing fact is that, according to researchers at Check Point, monthly mobile malware is growing worldwide over 30%.

The reality is that mobile devices are a juicy target for several reasons: they have large amounts of personal and professional data, including user credentials; they are almost always turned on and connected to the Internet; and have the ability to record audio and video. Another crucial aspect is that, generally do not receive the same level of protection as a PC, and in many cases, do not have any protection.

The most dangerous threats to mobile devices that leads to phone hacking today are:

  • Mobile Remote Access Trojans (mRATs): Dan the ability to remotely get access to everything stored and can infect both Android and iOS systems. Android devices are infected through applications of Google marketplace and iOS are equally vulnerable through the jailbreak method.
  • WiFi Attacks Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) occur when a device is connected to a WiFi access point that has been infected. The attacker takes communications and can listen secretly and even disrupt communication network.
  • Zero-day attacks: They assume exploiting certain vulnerabilities in both iOS and Android, which have not yet been published. Once on the device, the attacker can steal passwords, corporate data and e-mails, as well as gather information from the keyboard and screen activity.
  • Exploitation of Android privileges: Android vulnerabilities can be exploited to obtain elevated privileges without a trace, as happened with the Certify-gate vulnerability that affected hundreds of millions of devices last summer. The attacks take advantage of the opportunities created by the fragmentation of Android.
  • iOS false certificates: They use certificates distribution to ‘side loading’ of an application, leaving aside the process of official validation of the Apple application store via a direct download on the device.
  • iOS malicious profiles: They use profile permits to circumvent traditional security mechanisms, allowing, for example, the attacker modify the path of a user traffic from the mobile device to a server controlled by him.
  • WebKit vulnerabilities in iOS: Allows web browsers render pages correctly for a user. Cybercriminals exploit to run own scripts, leaving aside the robust security measures implemented by Apple.
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