Smartphones aren’t the prime target of virus writers — yet. Hackers are ramping up their efforts, however, unleashing a variety of attacks that specifically target smartphone owners.
In the past year, “we’ve noticed a 900 percent increase of malware for mobile devices that run the Android OS,” said Catalin Cosoi, global research director at Romanian security firm Bitdefender. “Although some of the samples are oriented towards profit, by sending text messages or phoning to premium-rate numbers, the wide majority [are] focused on extracting personal information from the device, such as contacts, text messages, browser history and GPS location.”
So, without further ado, here are the top eight terrible threats that smartphone owners should be aware of.
A short text-messaging variation on phishing attacks, smishing uses text messages to trick victims into calling a fake bank or credit card company and divulging his or her account number and password, under the pretext of needing to confirm a purchase or update security settings. When the customer calls the texted number, a voicemail system set up by the cybercrook records the account number and password.
Everyone wants a free ride, so some hackers set up free Wi-Fi hotspots in public places such as parks, cafes, and airports. Unsuspecting users who log onto the hot spot are then monitored for passwords, credit card numbers, and account information.
First demonstrated on connected car systems such as GM’s OnStar that allow owners to remotely unlock or start their vehicles, war texting is a hacking technique that sniffs out the codes used to communicate between a smartphone and a car. Once the codes have been uncovered, the hacker can unlock and start the vehicle without a key. In some cases, the criminal may also be able to track the car if someone else is driving it.