Mobile devices connected to the internet are vulnerable to targeted attacks and security threats. In December 2021, the number of global mobile cyber attacks was approximately 2.2 million, down by over 62 percent compared to December 2020. Cyber attacks targeting mobile devices have been decreasing since the end of 2020, after experiencing a yearly peak of almost 6.4 million in October 2020.
Mobile concerns: Smishing
While mobile operating systems come with vulnerabilities requiring patching and regular maintenance, watchful usage can reduce the risk for users of incurring security threats. Smishing attacks are especially reliant on users’ accidental mistakes or naivety. Smishing, or SMS phishing, uses text messages to lure users into accessing fake websites requesting personal data, or into clicking on malicious download links that could infect the device with malware. In 2021, AdWare and RiskTool were the most encountered types of mobile malware worldwide, while Trojan malware accounted for nine percent of the total. Smishing attacks do not interest regular users alone, but can also target organizations and professionals. Between 2020 and 2021, it was found that the share of IT professionals and organizations targeted by smishing attacks increased from 61 percent to 74 percent.
Mobile app privacy
According to a survey of global consumers carried out in August 2021, both Android and iOS users appeared equally keen to stop using an app if their privacy expectations were not met. Mobile apps have to collect different types of data for functionality purposes, including app diagnostic and device data for location-based services. However, mobile apps also collect other types of more personal user data, such as search history, browsing history, health data, and financial information. The data can be then used by the company that collected them in the first place (1st party data), or with entities that do not have a direct relationship with the users, and obtain data from the main tracking source (3rd party data). Social media apps, like other app categories, rely on acquiring 3rd party data from users for their advertisement business. As of February 2022, TikTok was found to have the highest number of potential 3rd party trackers, followed by Telegram, and Twitter.
Number of mobile cyber attacks against users worldwide from January 2020 to December 2021
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Kaspersky Lab. (February 21, 2022). Number of mobile cyber attacks against users worldwide from January 2020 to December 2021 [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved February 07, 2023, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1305965/mobile-users-cyber-attacks/
Kaspersky Lab. "Number of mobile cyber attacks against users worldwide from January 2020 to December 2021." Chart. February 21, 2022. Statista. Accessed February 07, 2023. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1305965/mobile-users-cyber-attacks/
Kaspersky Lab. (2022). Number of mobile cyber attacks against users worldwide from January 2020 to December 2021. Statista. Statista Inc.. Accessed: February 07, 2023. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1305965/mobile-users-cyber-attacks/
Kaspersky Lab. "Number of Mobile Cyber Attacks against Users Worldwide from January 2020 to December 2021." Statista, Statista Inc., 21 Feb 2022, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1305965/mobile-users-cyber-attacks/
Kaspersky Lab, Number of mobile cyber attacks against users worldwide from January 2020 to December 2021 Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1305965/mobile-users-cyber-attacks/ (last visited February 07, 2023)
Number of mobile cyber attacks against users worldwide from January 2020 to December 2021 [Graph], Kaspersky Lab, February 21, 2022. [Online]. Available: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1305965/mobile-users-cyber-attacks/