McAfee mobile threats report warns about banking malware, fraudulent dating apps

Summary:Now cyber criminals are targeting both lonely hearts and their pocketbooks.

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Malware plaguing the Android system is typically the top (if not beaten-to-death) theme in most mobile security reports these days, but that's not necessarily the case with latest McAfee's quarterly report.

That is to say, there are many other key lessons to be learned and problems to be aware of that affect mobile users on any device, regardless of the operating system.

Based on the security giant's second quarter threats report, cyber criminals are hitting mobile users in the two places that might hurt most: their pocketbooks and their hearts.

Financially-motivated attacks are nothing new, but the methods are evolving.

Researchers highlighted the growth of SMS-stealing banking malware, explaining how these criminals are trying to tap into the shift toward two-factor authentication:

McAfee Labs researchers identified four significant pieces of mobile malware that capture the traditional usernames and passwords, and then intercept SMS messages containing bank account login credentials. The malicious parties then directly access accounts and transfer funds.

It's also quite clear that these cyber criminals don't have hearts considering fraudulent dating apps are also on the rise.

Essentially, these are apps made to look like dating services, include all the basic sign-up (and payment) information, and then just steal all the data and funds in one fell swoop.

Vincent Weafer, senior vice president at McAfee Labs, hinted in the report that these methods are becoming more enticing for a few simple reasons: they're profitable and most average mobile users aren't aware of (or cautious about) them yet.

As in other mature areas of cybercrime, the profit motive of hacking bank accounts has eclipsed the technical challenges of bypassing digital trust. Tactics such as the dating and entertainment app scams benefit from the lack of attention paid to such schemes; while others simply target the mobile paradigm’s most popular currency: personal user information.

The full McAfee Threats Report: Second Quarter 2013 is available online now.

Topics: Security, Apps, Mobility, Privacy, Web development

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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