By Gabby Beltran, Identity Theft Resource Center
The increasing use of Smartphones for daily activities has caused a growing concern, especially when it comes to the personal information that is stored in the device. As the rate of use increases within different age groups in the population – so does the threat to Cybersecurity. The Smartphone world is the new target for criminals. It is subject to attacks that may manifest themselves through web-based, SMS-based, and app-based attacks.
Web-based attacks may result when users click on unsafe links, which are often received through unsolicited emails. This type of attack can give rise to ‘phishing’ attempts, which would trick Smartphone users into believing that a legitimate company they do business with is sending them email correspondence to update the information they have on their records. The information that is most often requested to be updated is: Social Security numbers, account numbers, and passwords. It is important for the user to verify the legitimacy of the email before responding with personal information. More likely than not, companies do not request their customers to update their information through email correspondence. Web-based attacks may even result in users unknowingly downloading infected files – giving criminals the ability to obtain the personal information users have stored in their devices or logging their keystrokes, which would reveal passwords and other sensitive information.
SMS-based attacks are commonly known as ‘smishing.’ Unsolicited text messages request the user to click on a link that is provided in the SMS or text message. Once the user has clicked on the link, the user may then be downloading malware into the device. This type of attack is typically used to spread malware. If your Smartphone is subject to malware, the information stored in your device is in danger of being accessed by unauthorized individuals.
Smartphones are known for their wonderful array of applications. Users have access to applications that will allow them to play games to deposit checks to be used as a bus pass. Because of the Smartphone’s increased popularity for email communication, online banking, making purchases, etc. it has become a prime target for criminals as a way to obtain personal information from unprotected devices. App-based attacks are used to spread malware and gain unauthorized use of a Smartphone. There have been many applications that have been removed from the Market because they have been deemed malicious apps.
The Smartphone has been characterized as a miniature version of the personal computer. Many internet security companies have now released mobile versions of the anti-virus or anti-spyware software they offer for computers because the threat to the Smartphone world is on the rise as a result of the loop-holes in Smartphone security. These types of security software have the ability to inform the user if an application is not safe and/ or whether a link is unsafe. So, these issues are being addressed, but safety depends on the user. Smartphone users should exercise caution – it is wise to remember that a Smartphone is only as smart as the user.