The Smartphone industry has become as hot, and unavoidable, as social media. As company and government offices move toward providing smartphone for “indispensable employees,” people who don’t want to be chained to their office 24/7 are finding a new reality. Moreover, let’s not forget to mention the millions of high school students that need smartphones…
I know, I know; it’s a school requirement.
Increasing use increases risk of phone viruses. Consumer demand for “the latest and greatest” has ignited competition between manufacturers that are eager to outsell competitors and sate consumer appetites. Today’s smartphone doesn’t need a ton of features. There’s an App for that.
Apps, or “Applications” are software programs that run on a smartphones operating system to make the phone, and its owner’s life, simple. In most cases, this is true. However, the introduction of the iPhone redefined the smartphone industry: Why buy a Blackberry, with 10,000 buttons on it when you could own a touch-sensitive phone that was sleek, easy to use, and fit nicely in your pocket? Soon after the iPhone came Google Android and Verizon’s Droid. Recently the Kin became available; its main selling point is social media integration. Other “cool” smartphones include Aria, Panther, Symbian, and–of course–Blackberry Bold 9800 (better late than never).
The nuclear smartphone race launched the app race. All good stuff. Nevertheless, like all good things, they come to an end, in this case meaning that more malware and spyware applications’ manufacturers that want to steal your intellectual and physical property. Malware on cell phones isn’t new, but it’s become more prevalent on smartphone platforms.
These “bad guys” are targeting smartphones at higher rates, and, according to mobile security provide Lookout, an average of 9 malware/spyware infections were discovered every hundred Smartphones as of last month (May 2010). A Dark Reading article on the malware highlights the fact that electronic infections took 15-years to reach their current levels. Mal- or spyware on smartphones has reached the same level in a couple of months. (May’s infection rate doubled November’s).
John Herring, founder of Lookout, stated, “We call this the 1999 factor: It feels like about 10 years ago in terms of prevalence of threats. There was a tipping point between 2000 and 2002 [for PC threats] that was driven by broadband. The same trends are going to hold true here” (with smartphones).
Veracode, another mobile phone security provider demonstrated why malware is dangerous; Tyler Shields, senior security researcher with Veracode, developed and released a spyware app that targets Blackberries, steals all contact info, both text and e-mail messages, plus allows hackers to listen in on calls. Scarier still, the spyware application can track the infected phone using GPS.
Blackberry infections are usually spying programs due to the Blackberry’s early introduction to corporate America.
A legitimate game application for Windows Mobile phones became victim to malware: The 3D Anti-Terrorist app game‘s code was altered to include auto-dialer malware, according to Lookout’s Hering. The app basically fires up the auto-dialer malware when the user runs the game. “It sits dormant for hours or days, and then wakes up and calls numbers at a premium rate — from Somalia to the South Pole,” for instance, he says. “The victim is then incurring charges but doesn’t notice until [he] receives the phone bill.”
As smartphones become more user-friendly, it’s important to understand that our phones provide more information than our computers, including location (GPS), automatic payment info, e-mail, text, phone call records, voice mails, text, and a record of numbers called by the phone.
If you need your smartphone scanned for viruses or malware, call U-Spy Store’s corporate headquarters in Chicago at (773) 529-2SPY (2779), or send us an email.