In a previous article, Cell Phones And Phishing Attacks: Do You Use Your Phone Safely? I presented the security threats of mobile phones and computing devices. And how cybercriminal organizations have targeted this area of computer use. The article also points out that the mobile phone space is ripe for picking by phishing scams and botnets using malware such as the Zeus bot. The Zeus bot is targeted at stealing your online banking credentials and draining your bank accounts. So much for the bad news. There is help available now, to protect these mobile computing devices.
Major computer security software providers such as Kaspersky and McAfee offer mobile phone based anti-malware software to help protect these devices. This is a welcome addition to an environment that has been virtually unprotected before this.
However, more scrutiny of the many mobile software applications called “apps” needs to be done. Including quality control of the apps by the phone manufacturers before allowing the software to be offered for use on their devices.
More bad news: Another issue to be addressed is the lack of education on safe cell phone use by the public. The Virus Bulletin reported recently that a poll of smartphone users who have visited their site showed “57% of smartphone users said they had no anti-malware protection on their phones – compared to 70% three years ago.” Of course I’m pleased to see this improvement, but at the same time, dismayed that over half of all smartphone users have no protection. VB also states that “75% of employees [are] predicted to be using a smart mobile device for work by the end of 2012, and the number of Internet-enabled mobile devices [is]predicted to outgrow the PC by tenfold over the next decade”. This does not bode well for mobile phone users. With the projected growth of this space and the lack of protection at 57%; the cybercrime organizations will be drooling on their shirts to get at these “fish in a barrel!”
Help Net Security recently published some tips on how to help keep you safe from these current and future threats.
- Install an on-device anti-malware solution to protect against malicious applications, spyware, infected SD cards, and malware-based attacks on the device
- Use an on-device personal firewall to protect device interfaces
- Require robust password protection for device access
- Implement anti-spam software to protect against unwanted voice and SMS/MMS communications
- For parents, use device usage monitoring software to oversee and control pre-adult mobile device usage and protect against cyberbullying, cyberstalking, exploitative or inappropriate usage, and other threats.
For enterprises, government agencies and SMBs:
- Employ on-device anti-malware to protect against malicious applications, spyware, infected SD cards and malware-based attacks against the mobile device
- Use SSL VPN clients to effortlessly protect data in transit and ensure appropriate network authentication and access rights
- Centralize locate and remote lock, wipe, backup and restore facilities for lost and stolen devices
- Strongly enforce security policies, such as mandating the use of strong PINs/Passcodes
- Leverage tools to help monitor device activity for data leakage and inappropriate use
- Centralize mobile device administration to enforce and report on security policies.
My advice to you is to heed these tips, educate yourself on the threats, and be acutely aware, even cautious to the point of paranoia, when using your phone.
Remember, be very careful…it’s really dangerous out there.
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Home computing is a blast…keep it safe, productive and enjoyable.