Mobile device threats are menaces over your mobile device that can manifest at the network level, can be application-based, system-based vulnerabilities, or even physical. These risks are wide spreading now, as we use these devices for sensitive business.

Smartphones and tablets bring a plus in your and your company’s life: they are reliable when you need to work away from the office, and technology made them capable of almost anything work-related.

Using them more and more, led to important data – credentials, card details, email details – being accessible from your mobile device, or stored on it. That is great for you, but also very tenting for cybercriminals, especially since security software for mobile devices came a little bit later in our lives (compared with cybersecurity solutions for laptops or desktops).

There is no better way to avoid mobile device threats than learning what they are, how can affect you, and how to protect against them.

Types of Mobile Security Threats

There are four types of mobile security threats that companies must guard themselves against:

  • Application-based – these threats spread through mobile applications. Spyware or malware can infect your device after installing on it an app that seems legit but is malicious.
  • Web-based – this is the most discreet type of mobile device threat as you can get infected by only browsing a website. The malicious site – that can look perfectly fine to you – will automatically download malware into your device.
  • Network-based – these are risks associated with Wi-Fi public networks that can be used by cybercriminals to steal unencrypted data.
  • Physical threats – this type of threats refers to the loss or theft of the device. This way threat actors have direct access to all your data stored on the hardware.

Most Common Threats to Mobile Devices

The first step to good mobile device security is knowing the risks that are lurking on the Internet targeting your mobile device. Cybercriminals can be after your data, your credentials, or your money, and they can use multiple ways to get what they want.

These are the most common mobile device threats, that illustrate all four types:

Data leak

Some of your mobile apps can collect data from your device and cause unintentional data leakage. Your name, date of birth, credit card and bank account information, location history, address book, pictures, and other information can be collected on the app’s server after you give them permission upon installation. But if the server that hosts all this data is hacked, has a technical problem or they share it with an untrustworthy third party, your private information can become vulnerable.

Public Wi-Fi

Free Wi-Fi is usually unsecured, so never use it when you want to access sensitive information like banking credentials, your company’s servers, etc. These networks that do not require a password or use encryption could allow hackers to spy on you online.

Because there is no way to know who sets a Wi-Fi network up, it can be a trap that directs you to fake websites to steal your credentials or a front to capture data, a man-in-the-middle attack (MITM).

Phishing attacks

Mobile devices are favoring phishing attacks as they are always connected to the Internet, the owners are checking notifications seldom, and the small screen makes that not all the details of an email or a message will appear at once.

Cybercriminals can use emails, text messages (smishing), or even voice calls (vishing) to trick victims to unveil their private data, click on a malicious link or make a money transfer. They use social engineering techniques to achieve their goal, impersonating a friend of an authority.


This malware is designed to survey or collect data and is most commonly installed through malicious advertisements (malvertisement) or scams. If the infected device is connected to your company’s system, then the organization’s data are at risk. Abusers can use this software to read texts and emails, monitor the location of the phone, listen in on discussions, and take photos, among other things.

Malicious apps

Sometimes you can download malware thinking you are downloading a – let’s be honest – too-good-to-be-true app. This application will promise you something free and amazing but, instead, will just infect your phone. Malicious apps can lock your phone, steal your data or your money


This type of malware is a threat to your mobile device and can lead to losing all your data stored in it. A cybercriminal can encrypt the information stored on your phone so you will not be able to access it and demand a ransom for a decryption key. Even if you pay – which is not recommended – it is not guaranteed that the person who created the ransomware will keep his word and you will recover your data.

Unsecure apps

Even unintentionally, applications that are not properly encrypted can put you at risk. Flaws in the code of an app or weak encryption algorithms can grant access to hackers. Malicious actors can crack passwords, or even use “back doors” to tamper with the functions of the app.

Password security

Since your mobile device contains both personal and work-related data, finding a strong password should be a priority. Bad password habits like reusing passwords or choosing weak passwords from the get-go just make a cybercriminal’s work much easier. Additionally, you can be at risk for credential-based brute-force cyberattacks like credential stuffing or password spraying.

Out-of-date devices

Updating your device’s operating system can keep mobile device threats away. Ignoring patches and updates can leave open vulnerabilities in your mobile device, and the worst-case scenario is using a phone or a tablet that is too old to receive security updates.

Identity theft

If you are the victim of identity theft, another person can impersonate you to open new mobile phone accounts or steal an existing account. This can lead to large sums of money that you will have to pay to the phone company

BYOD security policy

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) allows employees to bring personal devices such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones into the workplace. This practice grants personal mobile devices access to the company’s network and data. On the other hand, personal mobile devices do not have the same level of built-in security or control as the organization-owned desktop computers they are substituting.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

Because the number and type of devices – from phones to smartwatches and wireless appliances – that access your network grow so fast, it can be hard to monitor them and secure them with an antivirus solution. That is why IoT devices can be tempting for hackers who target them as an entry point to your home or business network.

Lost or stolen mobile devices

The loss or theft of mobile devices is nothing new, but after granting them access to your company’s data, the possibility that they will be used by a hacker is even scarier. Not only that they can be used for accessing accounts and harvesting credentials, but in this situation, a threat actor will have direct access to the hardware.

How to Stay Safe of Mobile Device Threats

The number and sophistication of mobile device threats are only growing, making it more and more probable to have to face one at a certain point. The best cybersecurity strategy you can adopt is being informed and prepared.

Here are a few measures you can take to keep your mobile device safe:

  • Adjust the amount of data that you allow to be collected by certain apps, accepting only the permissions that they absolutely need to function, and only after you carefully read what those permissions imply.
  • Avoid all-together applications that require too much data collecting or permissions regarding accessibility.
  • Download your applications only from well-known app stores and chose those that have reviews.
  • Connect your mobile device only to the Wi-Fi networks you know and trust. When using a public Wi-Fi, connect to a VPN to access company systems or files.
  • Phishing scams can be avoided by verifying thoroughly who is contacting you for your data. Only when you are certain that the sender is whom he says he is, you can share your information. Another crucial point is to educate yourself and your employees to recognize phishing messages when one is presented to you.
  • Pay attention to your passwords by using multi-factor authentication everywhere you can, and a password manager to help you choose and store strong apps.
  • A strong antivirus solution designed for mobile devices can help, among others, to spot malware that entered the systems.
  • Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions and Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions can help you combat IoT threats.
  • Mobile Device Management (MDM) can also help you secure, encrypt, or erase important information from a device that’s lost or stolen.

How Can Heimdal® Help?

Heimdal® offers you the best solution to keep all your device safe with Heimdal Threat Prevention.

By helping you to bypass threats, detect any anomalies, and block malware in your endpoints, this solution involves multiple layers of protection.

Our solution features the Darklayer GUARD™ filter, the world’s most advanced Endpoint DNS threat hunting tool, that works in tandem with VectorN Detection™ a smart traffic pattern algorithms engine.

Using AI-fueled technology will keep you prepared for any attack by predicting today what tomorrow’s threats will look like.

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Wrapping Up…

As our reliance on mobile devices grows, so does the value of data stored on them or being accessed by them. It is only logical that the motivation for cybercriminals to create more potent and sophisticated mobile device threats will grow also.

To protect all mobile devices and important data, it is essential to understand how these threats work and implement simple-to-do measures that will stop them before doing any significant damage.

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