Smartphone Security Concerns

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As the use of mobile phones increases annually, and as more and more uses for those devices become available, it is understandable that cyber-attacks against them may rise That is what David Goldman of CNN Money states in a recent article, in which he expects an increase in attacks in 2013.


In a previous article, Goldman stated that the reason that the attacks have not increased yet is because “Cyberthieves are making so much money attacking Windows PCs that there hasn't been much incentive to change tactics.” He estimates the losses to be in the billions. However, he continues, “Most people still do their online banking and shopping on their PCs, but those transactions are happening on mobile phones more frequently. Where money goes, cybercrooks follow.” So, in his more recent article, he connects the dots, stating that because “smartphones are also increasingly being used as mobile wallets …cybersecurity experts believe mobile payment systems are likely to be the next big target for cybercriminals."


One of the major concerns with smartphones is the likelihood of clicking a bad link. On a PC, people can (i.e., "should") make it a habit of hovering over a link, before clicking it, to see if the destination looks suspicious. That is not something that can be done on a smartphone, and so links get clicked without much thought. According to Lookout Mobile Security, they predicted that for 2012, “In the United States, 4 in 10 users will click on an unsafe link on a mobile device this year.” That number will surely be higher in 2013.


It was Goldman’s most recent article, Watching Porn Is Bad for Your Smartphone, that he really discusses the dangers of link clicking. Hugh Thompson, the chief security strategists for Blue Coat, is quoted as stating, "No matter how tantalizing a link might look on a desktop, there are cues that you shouldn't go there, such as an address that just doesn't look safe. When you click a link on a mobile phone, it's harder to know what form of Russian roulette they're playing." The reason this article has a focus on porn sites, is because “Porn is a leading traffic driver on the Internet, and for many years, porn sites had been a primary source of malware on PCs as well, and also because “Porn led to more malware on smartphones and tablets than e-mail spam, malicious websites, and fake apps combined.”


While it seems that for the time being, cybercrooks have not found it as easy to attack smartphones, it is only a matter of time before they turn their attention there, and many predict this to be the year when we see a spike in those attacks. Smartphones are great, and offer many conveniences, but remember, as with any technology, it is important to be smart about security. My hope is that as technology expands in this area, that those in the technology career field will keep up with it, and continue closing the doors that make security breaches a possibility.


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