Orange warns of the resurgence of cyberattacks on mobile devices

Orange Cyberdefense, the managed security services provider of the Orange group based in France, has just published its latest report with some rather worrying conclusions ?? especially for those of us who use a mobile device (so most of us, then).

According to the quickly named Security Navigator 2022, there has been a 13% increase in cyberattacks against businesses over the past 12 months. For the first time, a notable wave of attacks against mobile devices was detected from the third quarter.

While a total of 94,806 incidents were reported as potential threats, 34,156 (36%) were ultimately confirmed to be legitimate security incidents. More than a third (38%) of all confirmed security incidents were classified as malware, including ransomware?? an 18% increase from 2020. “The single emerging threat that stands out above the rest in our ratings is cyber extortion or ransomware,” the report said.

The report also revealed that mobile operating systems like iOS and Android in a commercial context are an increasingly popular target for exploits. Orange Cyberdefense has warned that the situation is likely to worsen in the future as vulnerabilities find their way into the criminal ecosystem.

Indeed, the report states that Apple’s iOS mobile operating system appeared in twice as many reviews in the first three quarters of 2021 than in the previous three quarters.

“It seems clear to us that there has been a wave of vulnerabilities and attacks against this platform over the past few months that have required urgent fixes from our users,” the report said. “A lot of the vulnerabilities seem to emerge from the ubiquitous ‘cyber-military complex’ that is willing to invest huge sums of money to gain access to an individual’s cellphone that is of political interest to one government or the other.”

Inverse pandemic effect

As was the case in the 2021 report, Orange indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic had relatively little effect on cyberattacks?? or at least not in the way one might have expected.

Charl van der Walt, head of the security research center at Orange Cyberdefense, noted that cyberattacks tend to decrease during shutdowns and then pick up again once everyone returns to a more normal lifestyle.

During a webinar to discuss the report, van der Walt also said it was particularly noticeable that attacks had increased against small businesses, as well as companies in the manufacturing sector.

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“The story of small businesses is important,” he said, pointing out that these businesses are generally less able to defend themselves and also take longer to recover from attacks.

Meanwhile, he attributed the “extraordinary dominance of our manufacturing customers” in the data to the nature of the industry itself.

“What we think is happening is that the industry is being victimized by these crimes, because [companies] are more vulnerable, more visible, because criminals are allowed to live longer in their environment,” he said.

patch up

In terms of vendors, Microsoft and Cisco most frequently appear in security advisories?? largely because of their respective massive footprints. Orange said it was not suggesting that these two giants were less secure than other vendors, only that they naturally accounted for a large part of the patching workload for many companies.

“Unfortunately, a lot of our time still has to be spent patching Microsoft systems or responding to Microsoft-related threats. And Microsoft’s cloud offerings aren’t immune either, it seems,” adds the report.

VMware, Pulse Secure, SonicWall, Citrix, Fortinet, F5, Palo Alto Networks and Juniper Networks collectively appeared in 56 reviews this year. “This represents 10% of all bulletins we have published. Again, we are not suggesting that these technologies are more vulnerable than others,” the report said.

Basically, the message is: stay alert, protect yourself as best you can, and act quickly when attacked.

“We operate in a conflict environment characterized by uncertainty and chaos,” the report said. “We must embrace the inevitable chaos, accept the relentless adversary and adapt our approach to security accordingly.”

?? Anne Morris, Editor, Special for Light Reading

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