Scam of the day – October 10, 2014 – Increasing threat of smartphone hacking

Hacking of smartphones was in the news recently with the revelation by Lacoon Mobile Security that the Chinese government through a phishing scam lured democracy protestors in Hong Kong into downloading a malware ladened app on to their smartphones that enabled the Chinese government to monitor the communications of protestors.  In this instance, smartphone users in Hong Kong were responding to a message on WhatsApp that read “Check out this Android app designed by Code4HK for the coordination of OCCUPY CENTRAL.”  Those responding to the message and clicking on the link provided ended up downloading malware that enabled the Chinese government to monitor the smartphone users’ communications as well as provide access to all of the personal information stored on the phone.  Code4HK is the name of a group of computer programmers who have been working with the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, but had nothing to do with this software or message.  As we all become more and more dependent upon our smartphones, use them for sensitive financial transactions and store more personal information on them, they have become an increasing target for hackers and identity thieves.  Security company McAffee has said that the incidences of mobile malware increased 197% just between 2012 and 2013.

TIPS

The key to protecting the security of your smartphone from the threat of malware is to not downloading the malware in the first place.  One important rule to follow is to not install apps only from legitimate vendors.  Most carriers will also provide security software for your smartphone as well as an app that will scan your smartphone for malicious apps you may have unwittingly downloaded.  Check with your carrier as to what security software and apps are available to you on your particular smartphone.  Never click on a link in an email, text message or other communication unless you have absolutely verified that it is legitimate.  The risk of downloading malware is too great.  Protect your smartphone with a strong password, install security software and encryption software as well as anti-malware programs such as the app Lookout which has a feature that continually scans your smartphones for viruses and malware.

Scam of the day – July 31, 2013 – Continuing dangers of the Android operating system

Android is the most prominent mobile operating system in the world and is used to power some of the most popular smartphones 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.  You may want to take a look at my Scams of the day archive pieces from April 1, 2013; January 1, 2013 and October 13, 2012 as well as check out my book “50 Ways to Protect Your Identity in a Digital Age” which you can purchase from Amazon by clicking on the icon on the right hand side of the page.

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 smartphones 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.

TIPS

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 smartphone 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.