Here's another huge reason why your smartphone needs security software

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Smartphone users have once again been urged to ensure they keep their devices protected after a huge rise in mobile threats last year.

New research from Kaspersky found that attacks targeting personal data on mobile devices saw a significant increase throughout 2019 as hackers continued their assault.

Overall, Kaspersky detected more than 67,500 cases in 2019, with mobile advertising trojans and so-called "stalkerware" seeing particularly strong increases, as the number of the attacks during the second half of the year doubled when compared to the first half. 

Mobile threats

Stalkerware, which is often installed on a victim's device without their knowledge, and then usually stays hidden and running silently in the background. A step up from typical spyware, the software is able to gain access to significant amounts of personal data, such as device location, browser history, text messages, social media chats, photos and more. 

This can then be shared with the criminal, but there is also room for a third-party hacker to gain access to stalkerware servers and collect all of this information for their own purposes.

"In 2019, attacks by stalkerware, which aims to track the victim and collect private information about them, became much more frequent," noted Victor Chebyshev, security expert at Kaspersky. 

"What is even more important, the technical development of this type of attack does not lag behind its malicious counterparts. Given that, we would like to reiterate that digital privacy is just as much a person’s right as any other. And there are ways to keep personal data safe and secure. But to do so, it is very important to treat this issue with care."

Elsewhere, mobile adware, which collects troves of private information to show users targeted banner ads, also saw a huge rise in detection, with 21 percent of all mobile threats seen by Kaspersky related to adware. Apart from delivering intrusive and annoying banners, such malware can also steal personal data, which may end up on third party servers without consent or knowledge.

Mike Moore
Deputy Editor, TechRadar Pro

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.