Isha Bhat, a 25-year old bank executive, was elated after buying her first high-end smartphone a month ago. The Rs. 37,500 smartphone, as good as a mini-computer, was a gift Bhat gave herself after receiving an out-of-turn promotion.
Yet, her euphoria lasted only for a couple of weeks. She discovered that her photographs were stolen after a nasty malware attack on her phone and her e-mail and Facebook accounts were hacked. “I had saved passwords on my mobile device that were stolen by a malicious app that I downloaded on my smartphone,” said Bhat ruefully.
“It never occurred to me that virus attacks could happen on mobile handsets as well.”
Bhat is not alone in her ignorance. Several studies indicate that around 50% mobile handsets users who access Internet on their mobile phones are lax about online security on their smartphones. In fact, over the last one year, close to 72% corporate and individual users faced cyber attacks on their Internet-enabled phones, ranging from malware attacks to hacking and data theft, says research by cyber security firms, which, of course, sell anti-malware solutions.
“Cyber criminals have been evolving their techniques over the last eighteen months to attack smartphone users. And, during recent times, this has led to a massive growth of malware attacks on these devices,” said David Hall, senior manager, consumer products, Asia-Pacific, at cyber security firm Norton.
“Mobile threats have been skyrocketing since the beginning of 2012,” said Altaf Halde, managing director, South Asia, at Kaspersky Lab, a Moscow-based security vendor and considered a global authority on hacking.