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Smartphones have become personalised appendages. We play games at the online casino, communicate with business colleagues, make travel bookings, shop and do our banking… all on our mobile phones. We can’t do without Instagram or WhatsApp – and most of us never give a thought to security…
Yet the truth is, state of the art spyware is being used to weaponize phones. It is transforming ubiquitous communications tools into data-breaching devices with capabilities to swallow us – and our digital identities – whole. Notwithstanding end-to-end encryption and regular software updates, our phones are neither safe nor secure.
We know, often from hard experience, that spear phishing has been refined to the point of perfection. Fake emails, sent from reputable addresses and featuring believable branding and recognisable signatures, have been doing the rounds for years.
Many of them are so convincing, CEOs and CFOs of major conglomerates have compromised their company’s security by clicking on links to bogus websites infected with malware. In the immediate past, spyware developers exploited existing vulnerabilities in popular social media and messaging apps to gain access to what is effectively a snapshot of our lives.
Along with top ranked online casino sites, like Springbok Casino, popular messaging and social media apps enabled access to large numbers of users. That, of course was a unique selling point – which no doubt appealed to the people who purchased that kind of spyware in the first place.
By finding just one vulnerability in WhatsApp software, for instance, the bad guys could potentially tap into the data of more 2.5 billion active users in 100 countries. Facebook, Instagram and Telegram have active user bases of 500 million, 1 billion and 2.8 billion, respectively. It is highly likely you regularly accessed at least one of these sites on your mobile phone… and probably still do.
In 2019, WhatsApp conceded that at least 1,400 users had been targeted by advanced Pegasus spyware, despite the app’s high levels of encryption and security. Apple’s iMessage app was another target which provided discrete backdoor access to billions of iPhones… but that door has since been closed.
We know the vast majority of you visit Springbok Casino at least every other day to get your fill of the best RTG online casino games. Like all the best mobile apps and online platforms, you can rest assured our security is world class.
Software apps as an entry point to your phone was one form of attack mitigated by regular software updates. Now, to another – the home location registers (HLR), alternatively know as Home Subscriber Servers (HSS) or Unified Database Management (UDM). Are the alarm bells ringing yet? Well, they should be.
If you think you can secure your phone by uninstalling the default messaging apps and social media platforms, think again. Hackers are targeting the databases that basically keep the mobile phone networks operating – the so-called home location registers.
These databases are veritable mines of information. In the wrong hands, this information can be used to plunder bank accounts, enable ransomware attacks and compromise personal safety.
Mobile network registers and servers contain vital facts and figures on all the authorised subscribers using a mobile network like Vodacom, MTN or Cell C. Besides storing subscriber phone numbers, they list all the unique identities linked to the respective SIMs!
What is arguably more disquieting, is HLR can be used to identify your last known location, data which is updated the instant the phone is moved to another locality. That means someone, somewhere, can accurately track your phone’s movements, and consequently you… in real-time!
These databases may be protected but they are no match for the kind of spyware that is currently making global headlines. The so-called Pegasus Project is a deep dive into the capabilities of the most recent iteration of Pegasus spyware and how it is being used to spy on prominent journalists, activists, lawyers and politicians.
In its current form, the spyware is completely undetectable… unless you happen to be a forensic analyst trained in identifying the dark arts of surveillance-as-a-service. Rather than gaining backdoor access via the software, this spyware infiltrates the hardware and sits quietly in the phone’s memory, harvesting information, or data mining.
The coded spyware can be sent via email, SMS and voice note or installed manually or over a wireless transceiver located in close proximity to the targeted device. More alarming is the fact that an unanswered WhatsApp call can do the job as effectively!
Once active, the spyware can access anything and everything stored on the handset – photographs, files, messages, call logs, browsing history, contact lists and so on. It can infiltrate the GPS and track your movements, activate the camera and take photos and video of you, and record conversations in real-time using the phone’s mic.
If you can’t detect Pegasus, how can you prevent it from breaching your phone’s defences? In short, you can’t. The best you can do is ensure your apps are regularly updated. That applies to the mobile version of Springbok Online Casino, for no other reason than your gaming experience is consistently enhanced!
If you do notice unusual traffic or have a suspicion your phone may be compromised by Pegasus spyware, the only way you can protect yourself is to ditch the phone. According to the experts, not even a factory reset – which deletes all the phone’s data and uninstalls all the apps – has the desired result!
How safe is your smartphone? Clearly not safe enough – especially when there is cutting edge spyware that can effectively take over your entire digital device without you even knowing about it. Protecting personal information is more critical than ever… but where to begin?
Here is the good news. Unless you happen to be an award-winning journalist, corruption-busting whistle blower, wanted terrorist or human trafficker on the run, it is highly unlikely you will be a victim of a targeted Pegasus spyware attack.
If you’re a regular Jane or Joe gambling at our online casino, there’s hardly much to be concerned about – so don’t ditch your phone just yet! Your gaming activity at our top ranked online casino is more than adequately secured by the latest SSL encryption and firewall technology. All you have to do is sign up at Springbok Casino and focus on the fun!