Virus Infections on Smartphones in the EU - Coming to the U.S. Soon
Report from the Eruopean Union
February 9, 2011
In a report from the European Union Office of Statistics certain countries suffer more from computer virus attacks than others. The report also included a list of countries with the lowest incidents of computer viral attack.
The survey was conducted in thirty countries with a sampling of over two hundred thousand computers users. Despite having anti-virus software installed the worse affected countries were Bulgaria and Hungary. Austria and Ireland had the least number of incedents.
The report also revealed that about three (3%) of Eruopean users were victims of Phishing attacks. Phishing involves using fake websites to lure people into revealing details such as bank accounts or login names.
Latvia had the highest number of recorded attacks at eight (8%) closely followed by England with seven (7%) percent.
Malta & Austria each had five (5%) percent.
Much of the malware targeting smartphones was spread via PDFs and Flash software, Mcafee said.
Mcafee, the company that writes anti-viral software, reported that in the fourth quarter threat report that the company has seen a forty-six (46%) percent increase in malware attacks targeting smartphones.
The report goes on to suggest that since smartphones are becoming more widespread than PCs, attacks are increasingly targeting these devices. This makes some sense because manufacturers claim to have shipped over one hundred (100,000,000) million smartphones globally in the forth-quarter of 2010.
At that same time Infections targeting computers hit fifty million.
Adaptive Mobile Dublin
Adaptive Mobile, a company out of Ireland, predicts that smartphone attacks will increase resulting in financial loss to both the carrier and the smartphone user.
The problem is that many users store financial data (bank, credit card, etc.) on their smartphones. Concerted attacks on these devices leave the user vulnerable to having vital financial information ciphered electronically and then used in identity theft scams. Malware can be programmed to record keystrokes including login information and passwords, and then transmit that information to predetermined numbers.
With thirty-seven (37%) of Europe and forty-four (44%) percent of the United States projected to be using smartphones this year these figures are quite alarming.
An SMS text message is received. When the smartphone user replies a particular phone number is engaged which bills at $4.00 per minute. As the user continues to try to send messages to this number charges rack up and come due when the bill arrives.
Often consumers hit with these charges refuse to pay leaving the carrier to foot the bill. Mobile operators have lost up to a million dollars to this scam.
As these scam continue both the consumer and provider will begin to lose trust in one another.
Four Types of Attacks
There are four basic types of attacks on smartphones that consumers should be aware of. These are:
- Advanced mobile malware: First identified in October 2010, this attack monitors mobile users access to bank accounts and harvests login and passwords and then sends that information to the thief
- Converged messaging spam: 411 (information) spam attacks involve the user receiving an SMS message and prompting for a reply; the reply is where the money is charged if the reply to phone number has a high dollar per minute rate
- IP reputation: SMS and email spam is on the rise; this results in mobile devices becoming infected with PC malware included in email messages
- Credit attacks: Messages are sent encouraging the user to dial a premium number resulting in high per minute billing rates
Next Generation Smartphones and Attack
The iPhone 5, rumored to have Near Field Communications (NFC), is an example of smartphones with increased connectivity to sensitive date. NFC allows a cellular device to communicate and exchange data with devices within 10 centimeters. These near field devices might include payment kiosks, debit card terminals, and other payment terminals.
Since the phone must have some of the sensitive financial data on it to process payments hacking into these devices will be high on the list of potential thieves.
After years of protecting both home and office computers viral attacks are now reaching into new territory; the smartphone.
Users need to be aware of these threats and refuse to respond to suspicious SMS text messages and email.
The author was not compensated in any way, monetarily, with discounts, or freebies by any of the companies mentioned.
Though the author does make a small profit for the word count of this article none of that comes directly from the manufacturers mentioned. The author also stands to make a small profit from advertising attached to this article.
The author has no control over either the advertising or the contents of those ads.
More by this Author
A rundown of common terms used in computing.
A very brief discussion on Microsoft Access and what it can be used for.
A list of the most common viruses and how long they live on various types of surfaces. Also, how to kill those viruses. Now includes Ebola.