Monday, September 2, 2013

The Pocket Sized Attack

Back in July Reuters reported on warnings by a UN team regarding mobile device vulnerabilities.

Last week, I got an email notice from the Facebook gods that once again their policies were changing, among them some updates to language concerning what data you're sharing with mobile devices.

4 days prior to that, I saw this article in the New York Times about malicious software being installed by clicking on a video link.

And immediately prior to that, Red Sky and Wapack Labs came out with a Priority Incident Report in which it was stated:
"Kaspersky recently reported that five million Android devices have been infected with malware, through Google Cloud Messaging, which allows hackers to send update messages directly to applications installed on a device.[i] The malware is designed to steal the victims information including the phone’s contact list and is the most diffused agent in over 97 countries."

As I mentioned previously, one of the most common vectors that bad people use to get into the intellectual property of companies large and small is through you and your contacts.

Being able to hijack a contact list allows hackers to gain a treasure trove of information that otherwise would take multiple phishing attacks over long periods of time. Names, addresses, phone numbers, company info...all of which can be used in very specific social engineering.

I'm delivering a presentation in a few weeks to a group of concerned parents that are exactly the same as every other parent. They are concerned about their children and want to do everything they can to protect them. What makes this group intriguing is that they have extremely high net worth.

Does this make them any different than you and me? Not in the least.

Hackers will use any vector they can to get the information that they need. High net worth individuals tend to be in CXO type positions or have significant influence in their companies. If their children are not using safe online practices, it could expose the parent to attacks both physical and cyber.

These days, most parents will have their children listed as contacts and vice-versa (at least one would *think*). To the hacker, it's all about who is in your contact list and how that information can be exploited. They have no problem compromising a child's mobile device to gain access to home networks of powerful people.

For some reason, the folks that I speak to tend to believe that cyber attacks will only occur on their laptop or home computer or company network. They forget that the device that they hold in their hand is a 4 ounce key to their entire life, sometimes much more powerful and valuable than anything you may have on your daily PC.

Just because you can fit it in your pocket doesn't mean it is any less susceptible to compromise.

Stay vigilant, stay up to date with your security patches, and for goodness sake, don't click that sketchy Facebook video link on your phone.