We now expect every website and email to be a potential threat and we guard ourselves with firewalls, security software and malware protection at every corner. We also expect our ISPs to do some of the work for us in limiting the amount of spam we receive, and catching the emails that are obvious threats.
So why do we treat the smartphone as being immune to the same attacks and threats that force us to spend millions of pounds a year in protecting our desktops?
How many of us have the same, or equivalent, protection on the devices we use the most? Smartphones now use scaled-down versions of the operating systems we use on our laptops and PCs and are, therefore, at least as susceptible to such unwanted attacks. Maybe more so.
According to Claus Villumsen, mobile security expert at BullGuard, “Mobile users need to be educated about the increasing potential risk involved in using a smartphone to access the internet, send emails and perform financial transactions.”
Proof lies in the number of reported malware attacks that have been documented in recent months. Google Marketplace has removed several apps from its Android Marketplace after receiving a raft of complaints that they contained malware. Even Apple, hitherto the only organisation to escape such attacks previously, has been caught out with iOS now under attack from commercial malware.
Recent studies show a 250% rise in the number of malware attacks in the last six months alone. According to reports, the number of malware infections has leapt from 80 to 400 unique applications in the first six months of 2011. The chance of encountering an unsafe link is now teetering on 30%.
People are simply unaware not just of the number of risks, but that the risks exist in the first place when using mobile phones. In a report from BullGuard, 53% of British people surveyed were “unaware of security software for smartphones”, 21% believed it isn’t necessary and 42% had not considered using it.
Paul Cubbage, MD at IT distributor Target Components, thinks our priorities should be realigned: “We’re experiencing a huge rise in the demand for mobile spares for screen repairs, faulty jacks and accessories, but the number of requests for mobile security software are few and far-between. Every mobile user should be protecting themselves from the same attacks seen in the laptop and desktop world- there are products, such as BullGuard’s Mobile Security that mimic their desktop offerings in the level of security they offer, whilst remaining simple to use.”
This echoes BullGuard mobile security expert, Claus Villumsen’s, assertion that it’s not just protecting yourself against online attacks: “Every phone lost or stolen is a potential threat- 88% of those surveyed claimed that they did not store sensitive data on their phone, yet we suspect that there will be an enormous amount of information collected on each device without the user’s knowledge. In the wrong hands you have exactly the same threat here as you would were you to lose your laptop.”
Cubbage determines that “we must start seeing our smartphones and mobiles not only as essential to our own lives, but also as an essential resource for hackers and criminals. The more we can do to protect our mobile devices, the more we do to protect ourselves.”
Kitguru says: Have you invested in smartphone security? If it is any good, let us know.