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TMCNet:  Hackers target mobile devices [Gulf Times (Qatar)]

[January 12, 2014]

Hackers target mobile devices [Gulf Times (Qatar)]

(Gulf Times (Qatar) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Christiaan Beek: cites a rise in targeted malware to steal money from ATMs and POS systems. By Joey Aguilar/Staff Reporter Cyber criminals are expected to target mobile devices this year to steal  information such as passwords, data about user contacts, location, and business activities, a report from McAfee Labs has said.


McAfee Labs is a team of 500 researchers who collect threat data from millions of sensors across key threat vectors: file, web, message, and network.

It did not specify which particular region will be most targeted but its earlier reports had revealed that Qatar had become "an interesting target for cyber crimes" ranging from malware, phishing, defacement of websites and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.

Based on McAfee Labs' 2014 Predictions Report, new PC malware growth was nearly flat while appearances of new Android samples grew by 33%  in the last two quarters of this year.

"Mobile malware will be the driver of growth in both technical innovation and the volume of attacks in the overall malware 'market' in 2014," it said.

This is due to the widespread and continuing shift of different businesses and consumers to smartphone use daily, giving attackers direct access to the device and its services.

McAfee Labs is expecting to see ransomware targeting smartphones, corrupting its apps to get its data without being noticed. According to Wikipedia, this kind of malware "restricts access to the computer system that it infects and demands a ransom paid to the creator of the malware in order for the restriction to be removed".

"Ransomware is expected to proliferate on mobile devices, as virtual currencies such as Bitcoin fuel the growth of ransomware across all platforms. Attacks using advanced evasion techniques will come of age, with enhanced capabilities to identify and bypass some sandboxing and other local security measures," it noted.

It also stressed that social platforms would be used more aggressively to target the finances and personal information of consumers, the intellectual property and trade secrets of big businesses.

Christiaan Beek, director of Incident Response and Forensics (EMEA) for McAfee, told Gulf Times that they were working on a research about Automated Teller Machines (ATM) and Point of Sales (POS) malware.

This has something to do with the increasing number of targeted malware written to steal money from ATMs or POS systems.

"In case of the ATMs, USB-sticks or CDRoms are used where in the case of POS systems, there are a couple of malware families that are used to infect the POS system to steal the credit card data," said Beek. "In one case we could track systems down to a POS system in the Dubai mall that was infected".

He had earlier revealed that they received more than 300,000 samples of various types of viruses a day in the Middle East, including Qatar.  These Advanced Precision Threats are targeting government institutions, company networks and financial institutions such as banks to steal data and information.

An expatriate worker in Doha, who refused to be named, disclosed that he was debited QR10,000 from his ATM without making any withdrawals.

When he reported the incident to the bank, he said tellers and personnel were also surprised how the money was deducted from his account.

About "social attacks", McAfee Labs is also expecting cybercriminals to penetrate  social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

They will also attack cloud-based corporate applications where many data are being stored.

"Because they lack sufficient leverage to demand security measures in line with their organisational needs, small businesses that purchase cloud-based services will continue to grapple with security risks unaddressed by cloud providers' user agreements and operating procedures," it said.

The report  pointed out that security vendors such as McAfee were expected to continue adding new tools that would prevent and identify various computer and mobile threats faster and more accurate.

(c) 2014 Gulf Times Newspaper Provided by Syndigate.info, an Albawaba.com company

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