Cyber criminals turning their attention to smart phones

Think your smartphone is protected from malware attacks? Reconsider that thought. The depressing statistics indicate that cyber criminals are increasingly turning their attention to smartphones. This should not be surprising. Naturally, we are increasingly using our smartphones as miniature computers. Many people are even making use of these devices for online banking. Smart phones, then, represent a huge untapped market for cyber criminals. The good news? It is possible to safeguard yourself from mobile malware by adopting some common-sense strategies.

Scary Numbers

The security firm F-Secure offers rather frightening numbers: According to the firm, the volume of malware attacks directed at mobile Android devices quadrupled from the first quarter of 2011 to the same quarter in 2012. That’s one among several unsettling statistics regarding mobile malware. CNN Money writer David Goldman, for instance, recently cited an article from security firm Lookout Security that four in 10 smart phone users will click or swipe a suspicious Web Link this year. Goldman also writes that smartphone cyber attacks have spiked by a factor of six, according to figures revealed from anti-virus company McAfee.

The Good News

These numbers shouldn’t cause smartphone users to toss their devices in the river. Regardless of the increasing amount of mobile malware, cyber criminals continue to focusing primarily on PCs. For just one reason, it’s easier. Developers learned from their past mistakes, and have made it more hard for cyber criminals to take over smartphones and other mobile devices. At the same time, these criminals have been so effective in targeting PC users, they have little financial incentive to target mobile devices. Consumers, though, shouldn’t rely on this for much longer, Goldman writes. As smart phones will continue to rise in popularity, they will likely see a greater number, and variety, of malware attacks.

Protect Yourself

You can safeguard yourself from mobile malware attacks. And, the same as with PCs, it mostly requires sound judgment. To illustrate, when you are looking for new apps, be cautious. Don’t unintentionally download pirated versions of free apps. The pirates behind these apps will charge you for apps you could normally get at no cost. Be suspicious, too, of apps promoting free virus protection. Mobile virus software generally isn’t free. A free app could be a virus in disguise. When you’re shopping for apps stay in well-known, regulated app stores. Independent app stores like GetJar don’t have the same amount of regulation as iTunes and other regulated stores. Finally, be suspicious of phishing schemes. Never give out private information like checking account numbers or Social Security numbers through e-mail.