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Nokia reveals banking malware threats increase as mobile banking grows


The Nokia 2021 Threat Intelligence Report shows that banking malware threats are on the rise as cybercriminals target the growing popularity of mobile banking on smartphones, with conspiracies to steal personal banking credentials and credit card information.

The report, based on aggregated network traffic data monitored across more than 200 million devices worldwide where Nokia’s NetGuard Endpoint Security product is deployed, showed an 80% year-over-year increase in the first half of the year of the number of new banking Trojans, which also attempt to steal SMS messages containing one-time passwords.

“A significant part of this activity is concentrated in Europe and Latin America, but this activity is continually being extended to other regions of the world,” according to the report. “Banking Trojans use various tricks to collect information. These include capturing keystrokes, overlaying bank login screens with their own transparent overlay relaying the captured information to the intended target, taking screenshots, and even accessing Google Authenticator codes.

Banking malware primarily targets Android phones. For years, it was the most targeted type of mobile device for cybercriminals due to Android’s ubiquity and developer openness, with some banking Trojans among the most common malware attacks. most successful in 2021.

The Threat Intelligence Report claims that most banking apps allow users to add multi-factor authentication to their accounts to make it harder for cyber criminals to obtain personal information. Users are strongly recommended to avoid mobile banking from easily accessible public Wi-Fi hotspots; and use both multi-factor authentication when available and strong passwords, which avoid common personal details like birthdays.

The report also found that COVID-19-related malware incidents in residential networks leveled off at 2.5% after peaking in December 2020 of 3.2%. This demonstrates that people are more aware of the threats posed by COVID-related cyberattacks and are taking steps to secure their home work environment.

IoT botnets, a network of devices connected to malware, continue to grow in size and sophistication due to the increasing use of IoT devices such as “smart” refrigerators and CCTV cameras. One known as Mozi, which uses a peer-to-peer command and control protocol, was used to create botnets made up of around 500,000 individual devices. Mozi actively scans the network and uses a suite of known vulnerabilities to exploit additional IoT devices. IoT botnets are responsible for 32% of malware incidents detected by Nokia’s NetGuard Endpoint Security.

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