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UNDERSTANDING MOBILE ATTACK SURFACE





WHAT IS ATTACK SURFACE?

The attack surface of your organization is the total number of attack vectors that could be used as an entry point to launch a cyber attack or gain unauthorized access to sensitive data. In simple terms, your attack surface is all the gaps in your security controls that could be exploited or avoided by an attacker. This includes software, operating systems, web applications, IoT and mobile devices, web servers, and data centers, as well as physical controls like locks and your employees who can be vulnerable to social engineering attacks such as phishing, spear phishing, and whaling.


MOBILE ATTACK SURFACE?

The functionality provided by mobile devices has significantly evolved over the past two decades and continues to rapidly advance. When first introduced, mobile devices were basic cellular phones designed to make telephone calls. Although carriers were targeted by malicious actors wanting to make free phone calls, users and their data were rarely the targets of criminals. Once modern mobile OSs were introduced over a decade later, the threat landscape drastically changed as users began trusting these devices with large quantities of sensitive personal information. Enterprises also started allowing employees to use mobile devices and applications to access enterprise email, contacts, and calendar functionality. Shortly after the wide-scale adoption of modern smartphones, a large upscale in the use and deployment of cloud services occurred. While this reduced costs and simplified operations for businesses, it altered the threat landscape in its own unique way. The attack surface sections describe the primary components of the mobile attack surface: technology stack (mobile device technology stack), communication (mobile and local network protocol stacks), supply chain, and the greater mobile ecosystem.


3 MOBILE ATTACK SURFACES TARGETED BY CYBER CRIMINALS


User Credentials

Attackers will often target user credentials, which are usually the highest level of security for apps. Additionally, cyber criminals will attempt to steal sensitive information by using social engineering. Cyber criminals will also try to exploit design and logic flaws in the app’s logic and security loopholes.


API Channel Integrity

API channel integrity is one way to help ensure that API connections are safe. Unfortunately, the most common way to compromise channel integrity is through public Wi-Fi connections that expose the communication channel between the API and mobile app. While developers may implement TSL/SSL protocols to mitigate attacks, sophisticated attackers use man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack tools to set up dummy servers to steal information and read API queries/responses


Device Integrity

Device integrity is one of the most used mobile attack surfaces. Cyber criminals will often target sensitive information and data by using various vulnerabilities in applications or devices. Cyber criminals may try to bypass this security measure by tampering with the device or altering app data remotely. Cyber criminals may also install malicious applications on devices, often to ex-filtrate sensitive information such as financial details or personal photos and videos.


THE MOBILE ATTACK SURFACE GOES BEYOND MAJOR MOBILE APP STORES


Each year, businesses invest more in mobile as the average consumer’s lifestyle becomes more mobile centric. Americans now spend more time on mobile than watching live TV, and social distancing caused them to migrate more of their physical needs to mobile, such as shopping and education. App Annie shows that mobile spending grew to a staggering $170 billion in 2021, a year over-year growth of 19 percent. This demand for mobile creates a massive proliferation of mobile apps. Users downloaded 218 billion apps in 2020. Meanwhile, Risk IQ noted a 33 percent overall growth in mobile apps available in 2020, with 23 appearing every minute.




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