Cyber criminals targeting smart phones

Cyber criminals have long focused on running their cons on PC users. And they’ve been remarkably successful in stealing personal data and stealing funds from countless people. Now these cyber criminals are unleashing their malware attacks on smart phones, tapping into yet another huge potential market of gullible users. This will come as being a big surprise to no one. Smart phones are booming in popularity. And most users treat their smartphones as miniature computers. They surf the Web, send e-mail messages and bank online using their smartphones. Fortunately, you can easily take steps to prevent mobile malware. It mostly requires that you employ good sense when navigating the web using your smart phone.

Scary Numbers

It’s difficult finding data on the frequency of smart phone cyber attacks. But in a recent column, CNN Money writer David Goldman does an excellent job of scaring his readers. For instance, denotes a recent mobile malware hack on Verizon that allowed cyber criminals to steal debit-card numbers. That attack led to a loss of $20 million. That’s just one attack. Goldman cites numbers from Lookout Security that found that four in 10 smartphone users will click or swipe on an unsafe Web link within the next year. Also, he reported that anti-virus giant McAfee reported that mobile malware attacks have jumped by a factor of six. When it comes to protection, smartphone users are lax. Reported by security organization SANS, just one fifth of smart phones are protected by anti-virus software.

The Good News

Smart phone users, though, shouldn’t panic. Malware attacks against mobile devices continue to be relatively rare. And that’s especially so when than the amount of threats levied against PCs. For example, Goldman writes that McAfee as of mid-2012 had identified about 13,000 types of mobile malware. That’s significant. But the company also had detected upwards of 90 million forms of malware aimed instead at PCs. That’s definitely a staggering number. Why have cyber criminals been so focused on PCs? They’ve been successful. They just don’t have an serious incentive to take their malware to smart phones since they’re already swindling so much money from PC users. But as Goldman writes, that will inevitably change.

Protect Yourself

You can protect your phone from mobile malware attacks. You can begin by downloading anti-virus software from reputable companies. Be cautious, though–cyber criminals could create bogus anti-virus software that doesn’t protect your phone but instead sends these criminals your personal information. Also, be sure to research any app before you download it. You need to be sure that it is provided by a reputable company. Finally, be just as wary of phishing schemes just like you should be while sitting in front of your PC. Never provide your Social Security Number, bank account numbers or any other information in an e-mail. Your bank will never request such numbers in e-mail.