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Attacks on mobile devices significantly increase in 2023

Cybercriminals frequently distribute mobile threats through both official and unofficial app stores.

In 2023, Kaspersky observed a steady increase in the number of attacks on mobile devices, reaching almost 33.8 million attacks, marking a 50% increase from the previous year’s figures. The most prevalent threat to mobile devices was adware, constituting 40.8% of all threats detected.

As the international mobile industry leaders gather in Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress, Kaspersky’s annual analysis of mobile threat landscape highlights the growing prevalence of mobile security risks alongside the advancement of malicious mobile tools and technologies. According to the company’s experts, there is a noticeable upward trend in attacks targeting mobile devices. In 2023 alone, the number of such attacks surged to 33,790,599, representing a significant increase of almost 52%, compared to the 22,255,956 attacks recorded in 2022.

The most prevalent threat to mobile devices was adware, a type of software that displays unwanted (and sometimes irritating) pop-up adverts, comprising 40.8% of all threats detected. Regarding banking Trojans, the number of installation packages for such malware dropped to 153,682 after experiencing a sharp increase last year when the figure doubled. At the same time, the number of attacks using mobile bankers remained at the relatively same level. 

Cybercriminals frequently distribute mobile threats through both official and unofficial app stores. In 2023, Kaspersky experts observed numerous malicious applications infiltrating Google Play. One of the most common disguises for 2023 were fake investment apps that relied on social engineering tactics to extract personal data from users, primarily phone numbers and full names, which were later added to databases used for phone fraud. Another prevalent vector of attacks observed was malicious WhatsApp and Telegram mods designed to steal user data.

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“The surge in Android malware and riskware activity throughout 2023 marks a concerning shift after a period of relative calm. Reaching levels reminiscent of early 2021 by year-end, this uptick underscores the significant threat users face. It’s a stark reminder of the importance of remaining vigilant and implementing robust security measures to protect against evolving cyber threats,” comments Anton Kivva, mobile security expert at Kaspersky.

To protect yourself from mobile threats, Kaspersky shares the following recommendations:

● It is safer to download your apps only from official stores like Apple App Store, Google Play or Amazon Appstore. Apps from these markets are not 100% failsafe, but at least they get checked by shop representatives and there is some filtration system — not every app can get onto these stores.

● Check the permissions of apps that you use and think carefully before permitting an app, especially when it comes to high-risk permissions such as Accessibility Services. The only permission that a flashlight app needs is to the flashlight (which doesn’t even involve camera access).

● A reliable security solution helps you detect malicious apps and adware before they start behaving badly on your devices. Conveniently, you can get protection, like Kaspersky Premium, directly from mobile operators.

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● A good piece of advice is to update your operating system and important apps as updates become available. Many safety issues can be solved by installing updated versions of software.

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