The Rising Threat of Smartphone Botnets

The Rising Threat of Smartphone Botnets

“Mobile technology” has improved our daily lives on many levels and it has profoundly raised the quality of life for many. But the threats coming from mobile technology are also very real and concerning for information technology and services.

Basically, botnets are large illegal networks of infected machines – usually desktop or laptop computers, which are typically used to send outgoing traffic to other systems to infect their network or device. But attackers are now using mobile botnets to infect the other network/devices using smartphones.

Infected smartphones that become part of a botnet can gain complete access to the targeted device and unknowingly perform certain tasks like recording audio and video, taking photos, sending text messages, open webpages, steal user data, delete files, launch denial of service attacks via HTTP floods and perform web injections, if supported. A HTTP flood from a mobile botnet can easily produce over 100,000 unique IP addresses, making it increasingly difficult for websites to mitigate such large-scale attacks. As the botnet grows, every infected smartphone gets added to a network of bots managed by a botmaster (cyber-criminal).

Mobile bot-infections were first discovered in the year 2011. DroidDream and Geimini both were trojanized game apps with bot-like capabilities that compromised Android devices. There have also been mobile botnet attacks targeted at iPhones, Blackberry and Symbian devices. So no matter the operating system your smartphone runs on, all these precedents are strong cases for mobile antivirus protection.

How can bots get to smartphones:

Users are easily get tricked to install malware via malicious apps found in the Google play store, 3rd party app stores or through malicious emails, that gains the root access of user’s device. Devices that are infected with these malware become a part into a global botnet without having a power of resistance. From there, an attacker controls a device (as an infected botnet) through a command and control system where the attackers can send a number of attack commands to these infected devices so they can perform the specified actions and launch illegal activities through it.

What can you expect if your device has been compromised?

If your device is infected with malware and part of a botnet you may experience these following things:

  • Disrupt or lost network connectivity of your device.
  • Stolen Credit card details, saved usernames & passwords, etc.
  • Incoming messages blocked.
  • Installing or removing applications without your permission.
  • E-mails being sent without your consent.
  • Dial a certain mobile number.

Here are a few tips to remember to prevent your device from being a part of mobile botnet:

  • Download applications only from trusted app stores.
  • Use reputed antivirus softwares to prevent from malware infections.
  • Do not install the applications from unknown sources.
  • If you are surfing the web or socializing online do not click on unwanted links, you may run into a malicious website.
  • If you are experiencing network issues contact your network providers immediately.
  • It’s suggested that you wipe your phone and restore factory settings if you suspect that your device has been compromised.