September 10, 2012, 8:37 PM — Security threats to your mobile device lurk as malware, fraudulent lures such as SMS spoofing, and toll fraud, but they're all becoming favorites of digital crooks as people move away from using PCs and toward smartphones and tablets, according to a new report.
Such cybercrime is worth big money, whether it happens on your PC or smartphone. Cybercrime in 2011 cost consumers $110 billion worldwide and $21 billion in the United States, according to Symantec's recently released annual Cybercrime Report (PDF).
But online crime may soon cost us more. The frequency of mobile threats doubled between 2010 and 2011, Symantec says, and 35% of online adults worldwide have either lost or had their mobile device stolen, exposing them to identity and data theft.
In its report, Symantec defines mobile cybercrime as unsolicited text messages that captured personal details, an infected phone that sent out an SMS message resulting in excess charges (typically known as toll fraud), and traditional cybercrime such as e-mail phishing scams.
It sounds like your cell phone is open to some nasty threats, but is mobile security really something you should be worrying about? Does your smartphone need the same kind of 24/7 threat detection that your PC does?
No doubt, mobile devices are the next big target for malicious actors looking to make a quick buck. During this year's Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, for example, vulnerabilities were demonstrated against popular technologies used in mobile devices such as near field communication, baseband firmware, and HTML 5.
The problem is that while mobile threats may be rising, it's unclear just how prevalent these issues are in the United States. Symantec's statistics, for example, say that 31% of mobile users in 2011 received a text message from someone they didn't know or an SMS requesting they click on an embedded link or dial a certain number to get a "voicemail." All of these techniques are tricks the bad guys can use to inject malware onto your phone or attempt to trick you into handing over personal data.