Cybercriminals are increasingly leveraging sophisticated cyberattacks that target mobile devices and applications, continuing to improve their tactics and techniques, and the reality is security teams are not well-positioned to contend with today’s mobile security demands, Zimperium research found. 

For teams looking to respond to this evolving security threat, the Zimperium 2022 Global Mobile Threat

Report offers key findings:

1. Mobile devices are an increasing focus of cybercriminals. 

  • 30% of the known, zero-day vulnerabilities discovered in 2021 targeted mobile devices.
  • The same year, there was a 466% increase in exploited, zero-day vulnerabilities used in active attacks against mobile endpoints.
  • Further, 75% of the phishing sites analyzed specifically targeted mobile devices.

2. Malware is everywhere.

  • 2,034,217 new malware samples were detected in the wild in 2021.
  • The Zimperium zLabs team discovered threats affecting more than 10 million devices in 214 countries.

3. Advanced malware keeps resurfacing.

  • Prominent malware discovered in previous years made a mobile-focused comeback in 2021. For example, Pegasus, the spyware program first detected in 2016, surfaced again in 2021. Attackers targeted more than 50,000 individuals, including journalists, activists, and political leaders. This most recent variant leveraged zero-day exploits to target iOS devices.
  • In addition, the Joker trojan discovered in 2017 also reappeared in 2021 and specifically targeted Android devices.

4. Vulnerable mobile devices are resulting in incidents.

  • 42% of organizations report that vulnerabilities in mobile devices and web applications have led to a security incident

5. Public cloud misconfigurations are exposing data.

  • Based on analysis of more than 1.3 million Android and iOS apps, 14% of the apps using public cloud backends had misconfigurations that exposed users’ personal information.

The findings demonstrate that security teams must start to take mobile security seriously, as the number of risks to mobile apps and devices and the corporate assets they connect to are growing every year. 

While securing mobile devices is an important first step, to fully secure organizations and their data, security leaders should use mobile risk as one of the many signals that feed security policies for accessing data in cloud, on-prem, and private apps, says Hank Schless, Senior Manager, Security Solutions at Lookout. “The rise in mobile phishing illustrates how attackers are targeting mobile users to gain initial access to corporate data. Being able to secure mobile devices with the same platform used to secure access and data interaction with the cloud, on-prem and private infrastructure is the best way to protect organizations against the modern threat landscape,” Schless says.