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McAfee 2013 Threats Predictions

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Mobile Threats

Malware shopping spree

Once criminals discover a profit-making technique that works, they’re likely to reuse and automate it. For example, Android/Marketpay.A is a Trojan horse program that buys apps from an app store without user permission. We’re likely to see crooks take this malware’s app-buying payload and add it to a mobile worm. Buying apps developed by malware authors puts money in their pockets. A mobile worm that uses exploits to propagate over numerous vulnerable phones is the perfect platform for malware that buys such apps; attackers will no longer need victims to install a piece of malware. If user interaction isn’t needed, there will be nothing to prevent a mobile worm from going on a shopping spree.

NFC worms

Phones with near-field communications (NFC) enabled are becoming more common. As users are able to make “tap and pay” purchases in more locations, they’ll carry their digital wallets everywhere. That flexibility will, unfortunately, also be a boon to thieves. Attackers will create mobile worms with NFC capabilities to propagate (via the “bump and infect” method) and to steal money.

Malware writers will thrive in areas with dense populations (airports, malls, theme parks, etc.). An NFCenabled worm could run rampant through a large crowd, infecting victims and potentially stealing from their wallet accounts.

Block that update!

One of the advantages that a mobile service provider (as opposed to Microsoft, for example) has in fighting malware is that once the cell company recognizes malware it can automatically push an update to customers to clean their devices. This works on phones that have not been rooted (or unlocked) by their owners. For mobile malware to stick around for a long time, it will have to prevent updates. Putting an app on a store that does nothing more than download external malware which locks the phone from communicating with the cell provider will achieve this.

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