Mobile malware increasingly being used for espionage by state-sponsored groups

State-sponsored groups take advantage of the lack of effective mobile malware solutions to target mobile users, according to a new report from BlackBerry.

How the malware landscape is evolving
We still have a massive number of hacks and malware coming in through phishing and older “tricks,” says Franc Artes, Architect of Security Business at Cisco.

As mobile devices have proliferated so has mobile malware. Just like desktop malware, mobile malware has long been employed not just by individual hackers and cybercriminals but by organized state-sponsored groups. But the use of mobile malware as a weapon by such groups far exceeds what was previously estimated, says a report released on Wednesday by BlackBerry.

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In its report entitled “Mobile Malware and APT Espionage: Prolific, Pervasive, and Cross-Platform,” BlackBerry describes an environment in which advanced persistent threat (APT) groups are combining mobile malware with traditional desktop malware to conduct ongoing surveillance and espionage campaigns. Mobile malware presents itself as an ideal area for state-sponsored groups to exploit due to a few different factors, according to BlackBerry.

Low threat detection rates and a false sense of security have made mobile users an inviting target. Security products designed to block mobile malware are still low in number. Forensic access to smartphones is limited. And research into the threat of mobile malware by governments and government-sponsored groups has been clumsy and disorganized.

To compile the report, BlackBerry researchers looked at mobile and mobile+desktop malware campaigns connected to such nations as China, Iran, North Korea, and Vietnam along with two other unidentified but likely state-sponsored actors. All of the campaigns were aimed at foreign and/or domestic targets with economic and/or political objectives in…