Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Threat Intelligence

APT Attacks on Mobile Rapidly Emerging

Mobile devices are becoming a 'primary' enterprise target for attackers.

How does it change security when the label we have for a device no longer describes what it does?

That was a key question Mike Murray, vice president of security intelligence at Lookout, addressed last week at Interop ITX in Las Vegas, in a session on the evolving mobile threat landscape. The label: "Mobile phone." Because, as Murray pointed out, the device that lets us make phone calls isn't really a phone anymore.

"The phone is no longer a phone; it's an electronic device that has access to every part of our digital lives. Unfortunately, we still think of it and protect it like it's a Motorola flip-phone," Murray said. And that gap between what the device does and how it's protected has led to our current situation: "Mobile has become not just a target, but the primary target in the enterprise," he said.

It's becoming the point of entry for many attacks. Murray pointed to the 2018 Verizon Data Breach investigations Report, noting that phishing and smishing are examples of the social attacks that convince many users to click on malicious links or download infected software. Then a dropper installs, or the user clicks through and it installs, he said. "After that, they elevate privilege, install software, and perform espionage on the device," Murray said.

Users' willingness to download malicious software has led to the dawn of the mobile APT (advanced persistent threat) age, Murray said. He pointed to two specific organizations, NSO Group and Dark Caracal, that are carrying out ongoing campaigns for data gathering on mobile devices.

Focusing on these two groups shows the breadth of the type of actors involved in mobile APT campaigns, Murray said. NSO Group is a $500 million per year software "arms dealer" based in Israel, while Dark Caracal is different. "Initially it looked like a couple of 18-year-old students had written the software," he said. "When they looked at the targets, though, they found targets in 38 countries. When they looked at the data stolen, they found massive amounts of information that was taken."

Both, though, show that mobile APT is evolving very differently than APT on PCs. "In the beginning, the PC attackers were not very good. The people attacking mobile devices are very, very good," Murray said, meaning that defenders have much less time to learn from the attackers and build defenses than they did in the dawn of the PC APT wars.

The, key, he explained, is that mobile defenders don't have the luxury of waiting for an attack before they build a defense. "We don't get to be organic in the mobile world," Murray said. "We have to think about where the threats and vulnerabilities are, and what can be done to turn them into actual attacks."

Related Content:

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 7/14/2020
Omdia Research Launches Page on Dark Reading
Tim Wilson, Editor in Chief, Dark Reading 7/9/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-10287
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-15
The IRC5 family with UAS service enabled comes by default with credentials that can be found on publicly available manuals. ABB considers this a well documented functionality that helps customer set up however, out of our research, we found multiple production systems running these exact default cre...
CVE-2020-10288
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-15
IRC5 exposes an ftp server (port 21). Upon attempting to gain access you are challenged with a request of username and password, however you can input whatever you like. As long as the field isn't empty it will be accepted.
CVE-2020-15780
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-15
An issue was discovered in drivers/acpi/acpi_configfs.c in the Linux kernel before 5.7.7. Injection of malicious ACPI tables via configfs could be used by attackers to bypass lockdown and secure boot restrictions, aka CID-75b0cea7bf30.
CVE-2019-17639
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-15
In Eclipse OpenJ9 prior to version 0.21 on Power platforms, calling the System.arraycopy method with a length longer than the length of the source or destination array can, in certain specially crafted code patterns, cause the current method to return prematurely with an undefined return value. This...
CVE-2019-20908
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-15
An issue was discovered in drivers/firmware/efi/efi.c in the Linux kernel before 5.4. Incorrect access permissions for the efivar_ssdt ACPI variable could be used by attackers to bypass lockdown or secure boot restrictions, aka CID-1957a85b0032.