Scam of the day – March 15, 2014 – Smart phone hacking

Hacking into smart phones is on the rise, particularly in regard to mobile banking apps.  It is estimated by Kaspersky Labs, a security company that the number of attempted hacking attempts went up from 40,059 examples of malicious code in 2012 to almost 100,000 examples of malicious code created to steal smart phone data with almost 98% of this malicious code aimed at Android devices.  Android is the most prominent mobile operating system in the world and is used to power some of the most popular smart phones such as the Samsung Galaxy.  Anything popular with many people is also popular with identity thieves who look for where the most potential victims are and then focus their efforts on exploiting vulnerabilities in popular software systems.  It is for this reason that I have continually warned you about the dangers you confront using Android products in many previous Scams of the day which you can read in the Scamicide archives.

Part of the problem with Android systems are that older smartphones are not equipped to operate the latest versions of the Android system which have incorporated numerous security updates.  A particular area of vulnerability in smart phones is malicious apps.  Malicious apps that you unwittingly download may include keystroke logging malware that can steal all of the information from your smartphone and use that information to make you a victim of identity theft.  As more and more people are using their smart phones for banking, hacking into banking apps with malware is becoming a major problem as identity thieves use this tainted apps to gain access to their victims’ bank accounts.


One thing you should do to protect yourself is to limit your downloading of apps to well known, legitimate vendors such as Google Play.  Google scans all apps before it adds them to the Google Play store to make sure that they are not infected with malware.  Also, as I have advised you in the past, you should also protect your smart phone with a strong password, install security software, encryption software and include anti malware such as the app Lookout, which for $29.99  per year has a feature that continually scans your other apps for viruses and malware as well as also permitting you to lock your phone remotely or eliminate all of your stored data if your smartphone is lost or stolen.

Scam of the day – April 1, 2013 – Android identity theft danger

A new strain of a malicious software that is unwittingly being downloaded by Android smart phone users is presenting a great risk of identity theft and even enabling the identity thieves to avoid authentication programs used for electronic money transfers on Android smartphones placing Android users in extreme danger.  A patch for this particular malware has still not been developed so your efforts must be focused on avoiding the malware on your own.  This new malware program is primarily being spread through a phony email that appears to come from the IRS.  It is important to remember that the IRS will never initiate communications with you by email so if you receive an email that purports to be from the IRS, you should delete it immediately.


A good rule for keeping your computers, smart phones and other portable devices malware free is to never click on links or download anything that comes in an email unless you are absolutely sure that it is legitimate.  Even if you receive an email from a friend with a link or download, you should consider that your friend’s email may have been hacked and the email you received is not from your friend, but rather from an identity thief.  A good practice is to confirm with any friend who sends a link or download before you actually click on the link or download the file.  Even then you run the risk that your friend may unwittingly be passing on tainted malware without knowing it.  It is also important not to install apps on your Android device unless it is distributed through Google Play.  Getting apps elsewhere carries too much of a risk that the app may contain malware.  You should also make sure that the “Allow Unknown Sources” option in the security settings of your Android phone is disable so that only apps that come from Google Play can be installed on your phone.

Scam of the day – January 1, 2013 – Smart phone identity theft risks

One new year’s resolution that everyone should make is to to take the steps necessary to provide greater security on their smart phones and other mobile devices.  As anyone familiar with my recent book “50 Ways to Protect Your Identity in a Digital Age” knows, identity theft is rampant on smart phones and other mobile devices as people who are careful to maintain the security of their computers fail to provide similar security protections on their smart phones and mobile devices despite the fact that many of us do many of our financial transactions on our smart phones and mobile devices and store much sensitive information on our smart phones and mobile devices such that if they are hacked into by an identity thief we are likely to become a victim of identity theft in short order.


Although there are many considerations in purchasing a smart phone, it is important to recognize that the popular Android has probably the least secure operating system and is most popular with identity thieves.  You should also make sure that your smart phone or other mobile device provides for encryption of your data and use this feature to protect your information.  All smart phones and mobile devices come with a host of features, many of which you don’t use.  For security’s sake disable those features that you don’t use to eliminate those features as an avenue for identity thieves.  Use a password to lock your smart phone or mobile device and make sure that the password you use is a good combination of letters, digits and signs.  The word “password” is a lousy password.  Pick one that is easy to remember, but difficult for a hacker to guess, such as “Safety1st!!!.”  The added digit and multiple exclamation points make this a safe password.  Look into remote storage of your smart phone’s information in the Cloud and make sure that you backup your information.  Check with your particular smart phone or mobile device manufacturer to see what security software programs they advise.  There are many free ones that work well.  These may seem like excessive steps to take, but they are not.  These steps will help prevent you from becoming one of the many people who will become a victim of identity theft this year.