Security alert issued to smartphone users

Malware applications such as so-called 'toll fraud' programmes targeting iPhone and Android handsets are making smartphone security “a growing problem” for users and vendors alike, a top tech entrepreneur warns.

Issuing the alert, the co-founder of Scan Safe, Eldar Turvey, said that, like other web security firms, his company has noticed virus writers, malicious programmers and online criminals going “where the money is.”

Characterising the now ubiquitous smartphone as the “new laptop”, Mr Turvey told the Independent that hackers had changed their focus, since people increasingly use their mobile phone for browsing and transactions.

His comments are evidenced by fresh figures from Symantec’s annual Norton cybercrime report, which registers an annual rise in ‘new’ cybercriminal acts – such as those against social networks or handheld devices.

One in five adults has fallen victim while using a social or mobile network, the report says, while almost a third has received a message from an unknown source which, when an embedded link is clicked, add a hefty fee to the user’s bill.

Such toll fraud programmes, the proceeds of which go to the creators, also make use of exorbitant phone lines, which handset users are unknowingly told to ring so they can retrieve a voicemail or picture file from a ‘friend.’

“Cybercriminals are changing their tactics to target fast growing mobile platforms and social networks where consumers are less aware of security risks,” reflected Marian Merritt, Norton Internet Safety Advocate. “This mirrors what we saw [this year]…nearly twice the mobile vulnerabilities in 2011 from the year before.”

 

9th September 2012

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