Phishing, spam and porn are the biggest threats to your smartphone

News 11 Feb, 2013

Prominent names such as PayPal and Angry Birds are being used to trick users into installing malware, research has found.

Cyber criminals continue to revamp commonly used techniques such as phishing, spam and pornography to trick mobile users into installing malware.

In particular, phishing emails from prominent sites such as Paypal and advertisements to download fake applications claiming to be Angry Birds pose a threat to smartphone users, according to a Blue Coat Systems 2013 Mobile Malware Report.

As the usage of mobile devices continue to grow and the BYOD trend becomes more prevalent, smartphones are increasingly at greater risk of contracting malware, the research warned.

Among the many causes of mobile malware, pornography poses the biggest risk for mobile users.

Although mobile malware that can truly break the security of a phone is still undeveloped, the Mobile Malware Report suggests that this will change as the amount of businesses providing access to corporate assets through mobile devices continues to increase.

"Mobile malware that truly breaks the security model of the phone is still in its infancy with little evidence of attacks beyond a few incidents that targeted the Android platform," the report said. "In 2013, this is likely to change as adoption of mobile devices continues to grow rapidly and businesses increasingly provide access to corporate assets."

The report added that knowledge about the tools and practices needed to make safe choices on mobile devices is lacking.

Potential malware issues that mobile usage can cause include:

    Increased risk of passwords being exposed to onlookers because they are not completed masked.
    Difficulty recognising phishing attacks through links because of the shortened format.
    Fake sites are harder to spot because they usually appear differently on mobile devices.
    Mobile versions of websites are often crafted and hosted by third parties, which conditions users to become comfortable visiting unknown URLs.
    New mobile application developers constantly emerge, making it difficult to chose between the reputable applications and the harmful ones.