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Be aware of smartphone malware

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People depend on smartphones

As the smartphone market continues to grow at an explosive rate, fake communications and applications are also on the increase, making it more important than ever for businesses to ensure their mobile marketing techniques retain consumer trust.

Dependence on smartphones for daily tasks such as shopping and banking has rocketed in recent years, with internet security campaign Get Safe Online reporting that 17 per cent of smartphone owners now use them to manage their finances.

Get Safe Online, which is run jointly by the police, the government and industry representatives, has also pointed out that too many users have a casual attitude towards the security of their smartphones, making it easy for criminals to attack.

If a smartphone user is not on their guard, they can be tricked into believing that fake communications and apps are real – especially as fraudulent versions often mimic genuine ones.

Once malware has been installed on a device, it can send a constant stream of premium rate text messages without the user’s knowledge, thereby generating money for those behind the deception. In many cases, users only find out when they check their monthly bill or direct debit.

Malicious software on Android phones

Rik Ferguson, a hacking researcher with internet security firm Trend Micro, told the BBC: “With costs of up to £6 per message, this [scheme] can be extremely lucrative. The user won’t know this is taking place, even if they happen to be using the device at the same time, as the activity takes place within the device’s back-end infrastructure.”

Leading security company Symantec recently revealed that at least six types of malicious software have been found on phones using operating system Android, currently the most popular OS on the market.

Adrian Mursec, senior developer at theEword, said: “Malware is very bad news for users and businesses alike. Smartphone owners need to ensure they protect themselves by learning about their phone’s security settings and checking them regularly.

“Mobile marketing techniques can be very effective in bringing products and services to the attention of people who need them – but it is important to be vigilant and be certain that they are the real thing. If you are suspicious about an item of communication, or an app, do some research to find out whether it is genuine. Simply talking to friends or doing a quick online search can help.”

Written by Liane Baddeley

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