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Is your mobile device safe from hackers?

Wed Nov 21, 2012 2:49 am

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Is your mobile device safe from hackers?

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Stockbyte

Don’t be fooled by a bogus app.

SAMANTHA MURPHY FOR MASHABLE
NEW YORK
Published: November 13, 2012 5:58 p.m.
Last modified: November 13, 2012 6:03 p.m.

Consumers may associate hacks and security breaches with the PC, but thanks to the massive growth of smartphones and tablets in the past few years, cybercriminals are turning attention to the budding platform, looking for new ways to extract personal identification and credit card information from unsuspecting users.

Although mobile security makes headlines daily -- with harrowing statistics, such as the fact that approximately 40 percent of U.S. mobile users will click on an unsafe link this year -- the biggest trend in mobile vulnerability is related to apps.

"While mobile hacks can happen in any number of ways, one of the most common access points is through insecure apps," Zach Lanier, researcher at Veracode, tells Mashable. "People should be concerned about what information the apps they install have access to and what gets shared on a regular basis. Users should also be more wary of which free Wi-Fi hubs they're connecting to, as most users don't think twice about connecting to any free and open wireless network."

For example, about 100,000 Android apps -- of the 650,000 total apps in Google Play -- were recently considered "suspicious" or "questionable," according to research conducted by security software firm Bit9. Although not all of the apps were deemed malicious, they performed questionable tasks and have access to private information, which present a risk to enterprises.

"With mobile gadget growth projected to triple by 2015, there's no reason to believe mobile hacks will do anything but follow that trend," Lainer says. "Android is particularly more susceptible to attacks, and its apps market has been in the spotlight recently for a lack of any type of security standards protecting its users."

Of the 6 million people affected by Android malware from June 2011 to June 2012, most were affected by toll fraud applications, when an unsuspecting victim is billed through premium SMS services such as wallpaper subscriptions. This type of fraud makes up 62 percent of all threats found on mobile apps, according to Lookout's 2012 State of Mobile Security Report.