Mobiles an easy hit for cyber-crims

By Amelia Wade

Only 9 per cent of people who report losing cellphones bother to wipe the memory or lock them remotely.

This year's Symantec internet Security Threat Report showed that mobile malware increased by 58 per cent last year. Photo / Supplied
This year's Symantec internet Security Threat Report showed that mobile malware increased by 58 per cent last year. Photo / Supplied

Cyber criminals are increasingly attacking mobile devices - because they are easy targets.

Last year, 16 per cent of New Zealand adults fell victim to social or mobile cybercrime. But even though the threats are increasing, fewer than half of the population with mobile devices take the basic step of securing them with a password.

Today is the start of New Zealand Cyber Security Awareness Week, and to coincide with the launch, Norton has released mobile insights in its annual cybercrime report.

It found we are becoming increasingly dependent on our mobile devices, with 30 per cent of users admitting they could never give up their phones and tablet computers.

And 59 per cent of people who access the internet on their mobile device do not use secure payment methods. But 40 per cent said they felt safe making purchases that way.

Forty-one per cent have had a mobile device lost or stolen, but only 9 per cent reported wiping or locking their mobile phone after it went missing - an option available for many smartphones.

Of those who lost their phones, the biggest concerns were someone accessing their contacts, making lots of calls and accruing a large bill, and taking personal details and pretending to be them.

This year's Symantec internet Security Threat Report showed that mobile malware increased by 58 per cent last year, with 32 per cent of these threats attempting to steal information.

That report said online criminals and spammers were less interested in email than they were previously because of the increasing popularity of social media.

Hacking someone's social media page gives the criminals many new ways to steal people's identities or personal information and infect their computers with malware.

"The bank robber, Willie Sutton, famously explained why he robbed banks: 'Because that's where the money is'. Online criminals target social media because that's where the victims are."

Netsafe chief executive Martin Cocker said mobile phones were an easy target because of the low levels of security. He said people should at the very least have a pin number on their phone so that if it's stolen, criminals don't have access to personal information.

Mr Cocker strongly recommended that people put some sort of security software on their phones.

"It's really a logical thing, if you think about it."

Mr Cocker said people needed to balance their security and convenience - saving passwords saved time, but it meant people who accessed your phone could also get into your banking.For more information, go to

www.securitycentral.org.nz

Mobile cybercrime

Most common forms:
1. Fake banking apps
2. QR Code Malware (malicious software used by fraudsters to disrupt phone operation)
3. Geolocation scams
4. Scamming contacts by phone
5. Fraudulent purchases via stored credit card details
6. Botnet on Android devices which generates spam sent from mobile phones
7. Inadvertently downloading a fake Angry Birds app which allows a remote device to send premium SMS from your phone, generating a huge phone bill

- NZ Herald

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