Technology research firm Gartner is predicting that Smartphone sales in 2013 will hit 1 billion units, and while consumers clearly love them, there’s a lack of awareness of just how much information they could stand to lose if their device gets hacked or compromised.
Consumers still seem to be unaware that their smartphone is really a little pocket computer which stores a wealth of information, such as a contact’s details in your phonebook, emails, sometimes even corporate data or business intelligence, and mobile online banking, and that’s forgetting for a moment the trove of personal information contained in photos, apps and games, email and social media accounts.
Your smartphone really is your digital world in a handy device that makes phone calls as well and with it comes a level of security risk nearly comparable to your laptop or home PC, just without the same amount of data stored on the hard drive!
So here are some stats that may make you sit up and think a bit more about mobile security.
- In Q4 2012, AVG’s Threat Labs detected close to 4 million mobile threats, many of which were designed specifically for Android™ devices, which currently is the most popular mobile platform. The most common Android malware app out there today is is a simple compass tool and the most prolific type of mobile attack is PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs), along with app repackaging, malicious URLs and smishing (phishing with SMS).
- An AVG study in the US and UK this year found that one in four mobile customer’s stores intimate photos or videos on their smartphone or tablet.
- 70% of mobile users are unaware of security features that will allow them to remotely wipe or delete data if a device is stolen or lost, according to the AVG study.
- Most mobile threats are detected in Russia (14%), then Thailand (8%) and UK (7%), according to AVG Quarterly Threat Report, Q4 2012
- Last year, AVG detected a type of malware called Zitmo, (aka Zeus-in-the-mobile), which is a form of man-in-the-mobile attack. This is sophisticated malware that side-steps the two-step authentication required to complete mobile banking transactions and so allows cyber criminals to gain access to your bank accounts.
Here are some tips to help you keep your mobile safe and secure.
- Banking Apps: If you do use an online banking app, ensure you only use the official app provided by your bank. Download the app from official app stores only and not from unknown sources, that could lead to your device becoming compromised by hackers.
- Emails and SMS messages: Be wary of clicking on links in email or SMS messages. As a rule, do not respond to unsolicited messages on your phone. Remember: your bank will never email you a message that asks you to disclose your personal PIN number or full password.
- Passwords: Ensure you set up a password or PIN properly to protect access to your device.
- Avoid Public Wi-Fi Networks: Tempting as it maybe avoid public wifi, particularly for making sensitive transactions, such as online banking. Any time before you log into your account, make sure you are not connected to public Wi-Fi. If you are using a smartphone, disable the Wi-Fi and switch to a cellular network.
- AntiVirus: Make sure you have downloaded a decent anti virus program for your smartphone and consider using a reputable brand, such as AVG’s free AntiVirus for Android devices.