Cyber criminals turning gaze towards mobile phones as surge in usage during lockdown

NEW DELHI: The country’s national cyber security agency has cautioned against threats to personal mobile phones from “spyware and ransomware” due to an increased usage of these Internet-enabled devices in the wake of restrictions on physical movement to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Computer Emergency Response Team of India (CERT-In), the federal agency to combat cyber attacks to guard the Indian cyber space, has issued a fresh advisory with over a dozen suggestions to keep personal mobile phones healthy and secure.

“The current global health situation has seen changes to the way people accomplish their regular job, with an increasing number working from home instead of office. Cyber criminals are attempting to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic and are now turning their attention to mobile devices to spread malware, including spyware and ransomware,” the agency said.

Mobile devices and apps (applications) must be appropriately secured to prevent sensitive data from being lost or compromised, to reduce the risk of spreading viruses, and to mitigate other forms of abuse.

A spyware steals sensitive personal data of a user while a ransomware takes control over login and other vital credentials of an individual and only releases them after money is paid to it through dubious online transactions.

The agency suggested certain counter-measures and healthy practices:

OS and apps update
Mobile operating systems like Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android platform and Microsoft‘s Windows phone provide regular updates to users that resolve security vulnerabilities and other mobile security threats, as well as provide additional security and performance options and features to users, it said.

The advisory also recommends keeping app software up to date.

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