Malware can sit dormant on your smartphone for some time before it is activated and before you become aware of it. Researchers
have found that the triggers may be as simple as music and light. Just by pulling out your phone and interacting with it in a cinema could trigger the malware into activation mode, via built-in sensors such as the microphone, camera, vibration sensor or magnetic field monitors. In other words, it’s not just your emails and internet access that makes your mobile susceptible to malware attacks.
Typically, the detection mechanism would be pre-programed to pick up on and become activated by a specific pattern of music or flickering lights. Once triggered, the now activated malware on your mobile would be able to carry out a programmed attack, either by itself or as part of a wider botnet; in this case, multiple devices could be infected in one attack. Let’s take an airport’s Wi-Fi system as an example. If an attack were triggered and multiple devices were activated, they could be used to create mass chaos, bringing down the airport’s WiFi system, or more seriously interfering with aircraft radio signals and take-off or landing systems. On a more local level, malware attacks could be used to mess with a car’s GPS system or a household burglar alarm. For the moment, researchers have focused on Android, predominantly because apps are able to run in the background on your smartphone, while maintaining access to the microphone (the trigger mechanism). While iOS has not been tested for vulnerabilities as of yet, initial thinking suggests that the more restrictive security policies make Apple devices more secure and therefore, more resistant to mobile malware attacks via triggers. On a more positive note, a solid mobile security suite can protect you from becoming a victim. If you’re an Android user, get BullGuard Mobile Security today!