IMSI catcher

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A fake cell tower that can be used to capture cellular data from a connected smartphone

Mobile espionage

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The practice of stealthily gathering data about a target via their smartphone

Phone tracking

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The practice of observing a smartphone user’s locations and movements

Radio frequency attack

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A type of smartphone attack over a wireless protocol that forces a smartphone to connect to untrusted equipment


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A type of smartphone malware that is secretly installed on a targeted device to silently observe and gather information

Zero-click attack

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A type of attack that gives the operator the ability to install spyware on a smartphone without any interaction with the target

Know the basics

Term Definition Example
Vulnerability A security weakness within a system that can be leveraged by a threat actor A threat actor discovers a usable flaw in a popular messaging app
Exploit The means – typically a piece of code – through which a vulnerability can be leveraged for malicious activity The threat actor writes exploit code for the discovered vulnerability
Threat The possibility that a system can be compromised by a threat actor’s activities or methods, often involving one or more exploits With the vulnerability not yet patched by the vendor, a potential target is under threat that their smartphone can be used for spying
Risk The potential for loss, damage or destruction of assets or data as a result of a threat, determined by the severity of impact and the likelihood of occurrence The potential target experiences an increase in the risk that their sensitive information will be discovered
Attack The realization of a threat via an active offensive action by a threat actor The threat actor performs a zero-click attack to stealthily install spyware on the smartphone of a target