Mobile banking apps a risk for security

Woman's hand on a smartphone showing a mobile banking app

McAfee Labs has revealed the biggest threats to security this year and into next, claiming mobile banking apps, macro and fileless malware are most prevalent.

The company released the information in its newly-released November 2015 Threats Report, which identified the biggest threats to security in the third quarter of 2015.

"The cyber threat landscape often combines something old, something new, something blundered, and something you'," Vincent Weafer, vice president of Intel Security's McAfee Labs, said in a blog post. "The third quarter provides examples of old threats repackaged with social engineering, new fileless malware replacing rootkits, mobile app coding blunders, and the exploit of the weakest link in any ecosystem: you the user."

Researchers at the lab explored mobile threats, saying poor mobile app practices, such as disregarding back-end service provider guidance, means user data is exposed to services in the cloud. Mobile banking apps are particularly targeted here, which is even more concerning considering the sensitivity of the data such apps generate.

"A two-month analysis of nearly 300,000 mobile apps led McAfee Labs to the discovery of two mobile banking Trojans responsible for taking advantage of thousands of mobile banking accounts across Eastern Europe," Weafer explained.

"Known to the industry as 'Android/OpFake' and 'Android/Marry', the two malware strains were designed to take advantage of poor mobile app coding connecting mobile apps to back-end service providers managing app data."

McAfee's report also revealed macro malware has reached a six-year high, with incidents increasing four-fold in comparison to last year. The reason such threats have risen is because spearphishing campaigns are becoming more sophisticated, targeting enterprise users and encouraging them to download attachments containing such vulnerabilities.

Fileless malware should be a priority for IT managers to tackle. McAfee Labs said it captured 74,471 samples of fileless attacks in the first three quarters of 2015

Additional threats exposed in McAfee's report relate to mobile malware, which increase by 16 per cent over the last quarter, Mac OS malware, which quadrupled over the period and ransomware, which grew 18 per cent.

The good news is that rootkit-related attacks waned in popularity, dropping 65 per cent, while malicious signed binaries also declined.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.