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Smartphones take a hard hit from cyber crime

Smartphones take a hard hit from cyber crime

Thursday, Jun, 7, 2018 03:17PM

Technology is at the world’s fingertips, and the need for people earning a cyber crime degree or online cyber crime degree is increasing. Many people are unaware of the dangers of having personal information logged in mobile devices and social media networks - without the right malware and threat protection software, most mobile devices are easy targets for professional hackers.

New reports released September 6 from Symantec’s annual Norton Cybercrime Report found that these attacks cost consumers worldwide an estimated $110 billion last year, with attackers targeting phones and social media networks that contain personal information. Although residents of Eastern Europe, China and Russia hold the biggest threat of malware, American smartphones are still at risk.

Lookout Mobile Security, a world leader in mobile security, estimated that millions of dollars have been stolen from people using what is called toll fraud programs. The malware program prompts smartphones to send bogus premium text messages, which are charged to a service bill and often go unnoticed. That money eventually ends up in the hands of the hackers. Lookout reported toll frauds have skyrocketed from 29 percent to 62 percent in 12 months.

"When we look at the data, 12 months ago we saw a lot of evidence of experimentation that indicated malware developers were looking to see what stuck," Lookout senior product manager Derek Halliday said. "With toll fraud they have found a business model that seems to be working; now they are trying to find a distribution model."

According to Symantec's report, it is estimated that one in five adults said they were victims of cybercrime on a social network or on a mobile device, and roughly one-third of smartphone users have received a text message prompting them to click on an embedded link or call an unknown phone number.

In the United States, malicious web links and advertising is very common. Lookout found that four out of 10 smartphone users will click on an unsafe link, and more than 5 percent will encounter an aggressive ad. More than 20 percent of the unsafe links sent out are meant to lead users to their sensitive information, and 16 percent bring users to compromised websites. The aggressive ads can change user settings, and personalization apps are the most vulnerable. Of free personalization applications, roughly 17 percent include aggressive advertising.

To avoid these hazards, Lookout recommends users have a passcode on their device, and only use trusted sites for downloading. 

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