Mobile malware continues to threaten users in Southeast Asia — Kaspersky

Global cybersecurity company Kaspersky has detected and blocked 382,578 mobile attacks against users in SEA during the first half of 2021. This is a 14% increase compared with the same period last year with 336,680 incidents. The mobile attacks detected and blocked cover the general Kaspersky users from Southeast Asia.

A survey conducted by Kaspersky revealed that a little more than two-thirds of respondents are using a personal device to work from home. Aside from this, employees are also using their work gadgets for personal activities such as watching videos and educational content, reading the news, and playing video games.

According to a Kaspersky study, 33% of the 6,017 employees surveyed worldwide last year admitted to using their office devices to watch adult content, a type of content that is often targeted by cybercriminals.

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“Laptops are the main workhorse but mobile devices have also been used to access office emails and work-related systems even before the pandemic,” said Yeo Siang Tiong, GM for Southeast Asia at Kaspersky. “It is a risky but a known practice that these same handsets are also being utilized for personal tasks and accessing guilty pleasures. With this trend being more rampant in a virtual home office, companies should revisit their policies, access rights, and security set-up to block cybercriminals from entering their enterprise network through infected smartphones.”

Smartphones, tablets

Mobile malware refers to malicious software specifically targeted to infect mobile devices including handsets, tablets, and other smart gadgets. While mobile malware hasn’t quite caught up to its PC counterpart in terms of volume or complexity, experts are seeing more mobile-specific malware designed to prey on smartphone features or tablet vulnerabilities.

Indonesia logged the highest number of foiled mobile attacks from January 2020 to June 2021 followed by Malaysia and Thailand. Indonesia also ranked third in terms of mobile malware detected in the second quarter of the year. Russia and Ukraine took the first and second spot while India and Turkey landed in fourth and fifth place.

In terms of the percentage of users attacked by mobile malware, 4.42% of users in Malaysia were targeted during the first half of the year, followed by Thailand (4.26%) and Indonesia (2.95%). Singapore is quite close with 2.83% of mobile users almost infected by this type of threat. The Philippines (2.27%) and Vietnam (1.13%) logged the lowest percent during this period.

The three most common mobile threats in SEA include:

Trojans. Malicious programs that perform actions that are not authorized by the user. They delete, block, modify or copy data, and disrupt the performance of computers or computer networks.

Trojan-Downloader. Downloads and installs new versions of malicious programs, including Trojans and AdWare on victim computers. Once downloaded from the Internet, the programs are launched or included on a list of programs that will run automatically when the operating system boots up.

Trojan-Dropper. Programs that are designed to secretly install malicious programs built into their code to victim’s computers. This type of malicious program usually saves a range of files to the victim’s drive and launches them without any notification (or with fake notification of an archive error, an outdated operating system version, amon others).