Mobile Phone Security Under Attack

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Robert Siciliano

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As mobile Internet usage continues its rapid growth, cyber criminals are expected to pay more attention to this sector.

Mobile device platforms compete for content creators’ latest innovations, which often require more and more device access. As applications and other content are more widely distributed, security breaches will be inevitable.

The speed of technological advancement and the demand for new products and services make mobile phones particularly vulnerable. In some countries, almost all banking takes place with the use of phones.

Spyware, which was created as a legitimate technology for PCs, further complicates matters. Spyware can track and record social networking activities, online searches, chats, instant messages, emails, keystrokes, websites visited, and programs launched.

It can be the equivalent of digital surveillance, revealing every stroke of the user’s mouse and keyboard. When a PC or phone becomes infected with spyware, all the data on that PC or phone is immediately compromised.

Mobile phone spyware is relatively new, and is quickly grabbing headlines. As PCs shrink to the size of a smartphone, spyware continues to evolve.

This software records nearly everything a person does on a phone. Some spyware programs can record everything in a video file that can then be accessed remotely.

Spyware can be installed on your cell phone remotely or directly. To protect your phone, never click on links in texts or emails, since these links may actually point toward malicious downloads.

Keep your phone with you, don’t let it out of your sight, and don’t share it with others. Make sure your phone requires a password, as this makes it more difficult to install spyware.

If your phone is behaving oddly or you have some other reason to suspect that it contains spyware, reinstall the phone’s operating system.

Consult your user manual or call your carrier’s customer service for step-by-step help with this process.

With more than 11 million victims just last year, identity theft is a serious concern. McAfee Identity Protection offers proactive identity surveillance, lost wallet protection, and alerts when suspicious activity is detected on your financial accounts. Educate and protect yourself – please visit http://www.counteridentitytheft.com.

Robert Siciliano is a McAfee consultant and identity theft expert. See him discuss mobile phone spyware on Good Morning America. (Disclosures)

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