The digital ecosystem has one defining characteristic above all others, sharing, which has increased steadily over the years. It has also resulted in an increase in DDoS attacks and the damage they cause. One of the most frequent questions we get from our visitors is if DDoS attacks can happen on mobile apps. The short answer is yes, but there’s a lot more to know. This blog explores everything you need to know about DDoS mobile app attacks as a smartphone user.
DDoS Mobile App Attacks and How to Prevent Them
Before we begin, for the benefit of those new to this kind of tech stuff, let’s discuss what a DDoS attack is. Distributed Denial of Service or DDoS usually attacks multiple devices or computers simultaneously. It is a cyber attack that infects your device with malware. This malware makes all the infected devices act like a bot network, attacking a server and make it useless. A DDoS attack can target anything from your Whatsapp messaging app.
This blog explores the following with regards to DDoS:
- How Mobile Apps Are Susceptible to DDoS Attacks
- What a DDoS Mobile App Attack Looks like
- DDoS on Google Play Store Apps
- Preventing DDoS Mobile App Attacks
Let’s begin without further ado.
1. How Mobile Apps Are Susceptible to DDoS Attacks
DDoS attacks have a special preference for mobile phone apps. This is not something new. In the past, there have been several instances of DDoS attacks targeting mobile phone apps and controlling other mobile devices to carry out more DDoS attacks. There are several reasons why this is common. For one thing, a DDoS attacker can easily profile a potential app user. This allows them to carry out DDoS attacks on mobile phones with a fairly high probability of success.
Most of the social media apps we use like Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram are potential targets for DDoS attacks. That’s because almost everyone has them, and it is much easier to profile users using their smartphones. Another factor to consider is that many smartphone apps don’t have a robust security structure. This makes them a preferred target for DDoS attacks.
2. What a DDoS Mobile App Attack Looks like
Let’s paint a simplified picture for you. Let’s say person X developed a smartphone app and published it on your phone’s app store. You, as a user, find and download that app. Once the app is on your device, your smartphone is more susceptible to a DDoS attack. Alternatively, the app could open up new loopholes that a DDoS attacker could use to control your smartphone and attack other servers. The simple act of downloading an app can potentially grant control over your phone to the attacker.
You can either be a source of a DDoS attack or a victim, but neither is a desirable position to be in. DDoS attacks usually target corporations and enterprises, instead of an average smartphone user’s bank account. A DDoS attack blocks web traffic from reaching your server. In most cases, this means your customers can’t reach you and you lose significant potential revenue. Remedial measures are often cost-intensive and the damage to your reputation and goodwill is even harder to repair.
3. DDoS on Google Play Store Apps
A big example of DDoS mobile app attacks on Google Play Store is the WireX botnet. The attacker hid this botnet inside over 300 mobile apps on the Google Play Store. If a user installed any of these 300 apps, WireX assumed control and added the device to a network of bots. This botnet then sent junk traffic to specific websites, jamming their servers and making them unusable. After discovering the WireX botnet, Google removed these 300 apps from the Play Store.
4. Preventing DDoS Mobile App Attacks
You’re probably becoming paranoid about almost every mobile app on your phone right now. Don’t worry though. Whether you are a private user or have an enterprise device, the following measures can help you prevent DDoS mobile app attacks from taking control of your phone:
- Look at every app you have and may download in the future with healthy skepticism.
- Keep your smartphone’s operating system and the apps you have on it up-to-date.
- Follow the reviews and ratings on the Google Play Store to get a better idea about the app you want to install.
- Conduct deeper searches for apps you need for specific tasks.
- Install anti-malware apps on your smartphone and keep them updated.
The modern digital economy is full of tons of data flowing from different touchpoints. That makes apps that share information a prime target for DDoS attacks. However, a healthy amount of skepticism and prudence can help keep you safe. So don’t download that shady looking app that promises a free internet packages subscription if you click on a link. And don’t forget to keep your phone’s security suite updated. Prevention is better than cure, and remediating a DDoS attack can be expensive. Stay safe, and stay vigilant.