CC image courtesy of Harland Quarrington
In a post on the Kasperskyblog, editorial assistant Brian Donohue warned that smartphones’ enhanced capabilities such as GPS and cameras, which can be tracked as well as be monitored by other parties such as mobile operators, have exposed users to risks not seen on PCs, that are in real sense immobile.
According to Donohue the number of ways an attacker can infiltrate a mobile device is greater than the number of which they can compromise a traditional PC.
“Last year, I read an article in the Daily Mail reporting on a malicious application proof-of-concept developed by the United States Military,” Donohue said.
“The app is apparently capable of turning on the camera on your mobile phone and taking and sending images and videos back [to] the app’s developers.”
Apart from the camera various apps can be used to record conversations, track movement, steal passwords and read emails.
Donohue notes that some of the dangers on mobile devices are even non-existent on PCs.
With data loss, for example, he exposed how the use of a universal cable for both charging and connectivity has exposed users to easy data theft, especially those charging using USB cables attached to devices such as laptops and PCs.
“You had to plug into and, perhaps shamefully, pay that charging kiosk, but you have no idea who it belongs to and you could easily being paying some guy to steal all sorts of valuable data from your phone,” said Donohue.
Another danger faced by users of smartphones and other mobile devices that are almost nonexistent in PCs and much lower on laptops is the possibility of device loss.
He says that there is however, for anyone who loses their phones, various data wiping features on various smartphones.
Above all, Donohue said most of the threats can be remedied by the user by avoiding various activities that expose your phone and its data to various threats, such as always carrying a spare charger and the use of encryption to safeguard data.
However as the mobile phone remains a larger attack surface the greatest threat to the vulnerability of the smartphone is unaware users who expose their personal data with little concern on security.