Decline in mobile malware but hackers show growing sophistication

Mobile malware attacks in Singapore declined 15.9% to 7385 in 2021 compared to the year before, in line with a global downward trend in the number of attacks on mobile users, according to global cybersecurity company Kaspersky.

Globally, the number of mobile malware attacks have been falling gradually from a peak of 6.49 million in October 2020 to a low of 2.23 million in December 2021, based on detection verdicts of Kaspersky products received from users worldwide.

As its name suggests, mobile malware is a malicious software that specifically targets the operating systems of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. However, despite a decrease in the number of attacks, users should not be letting their guard down considering that attacks are becoming more sophisticated in terms of both malware functionality and vectors.

“The future is definitely mobile here in Southeast Asia. At the surface, it may seem that cybercriminals are becoming less active because of the decreased mobile malware attacks. But it is a global trend and it does not necessarily mean we are safer,” says Yeo Siang Tiong, general manager for Southeast Asia at Kaspersky.

“We have to note that as we embrace digital payment apps more, we unconsciously put more of our hard-earned money in our devices. Our devices which usually remain vulnerable from simple malware attacks,” he says. 

“There is a gap between awareness and action here in Southeast Asia so I urge digital payment providers and regulators to help us in encouraging users to protect their mobile devices too.”

In Singapore, the top-5 mobile malware detected in 2021 are as follows:

1.       Trojan-Downloader

2.       Trojan

3.       Trojan-Dropper

4.       Trojan-SMS

5.       Backdoor

Southeast Asian nations, primarily Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore, collectively saw a decrease in mobile malware attacks from 605,192 in 2020 to 598,588 in 2021, representing a 1.1% decline as Kaspersky data revealed.

Globally, 2021 saw repeat incidents of malicious code injection into popular apps through ad SDKs, as in the sensational case of CamScanner — where Kaspersky found malicious code…