With their numbers increasing rapidly, smartphones are becoming more vulnerable to attacks by cybercriminals looking for prey beyond the PC and targetting mobiles, especially those using Android operating system, say experts.
"The major mobile platforms have finally become ubiquitous enough to garner the attention of attackers, and as such, Symantec expects attacks on these platforms to increase," Symantec Managing Director, Sales, India and SAARC, Anand Naik said.
Expressing similar views, McAfee Labs Product Manger Vinoo Thomas said, "With smartphones becoming more powerful and popular, we have seen a lot threat moving to them from PCs."
Although the risks to computers have not totally subsided, malicious software authors are now creating mobile-specific malware. "The number of vulnerabilities in the mobile space are rising and malware authors not only reinventing existing malware for mobile devices, but creating mobile-specific malware geared to the unique mobile opportunities," Naik said.
Threats that mobile malware pose include, sending premium-rate SMSes, collecting device data, spying on the users, tracking location of the device, modifying the settings, sending spam, monitoring the device for banking transactions and so on.
As tablets and smartphones continue to outsell PCs, and workers bringing in their own devices into the corporate environment, attacks on these platforms will keep increasing at a very fast pace.
According to Symantec's Internet Security Threat Report XVII, attackers are exploring a shift in focus toward mobile devices and mobile vulnerabilities increased by 93 per cent last year.
Majority for these threats are targetted at Google's Android operating system. "In our Global Threats Report for the first quarter of 2012, we saw a large increase in mobile malware. The jump was
targeted almost solely at the Android platform. "Hundreds of Android threats in the middle of 2011 have moved into the thousands this year. Android threats now reach almost 7,000, with more than 8,000 total mobile malware samples in our database," Thomas said.
Other major mobile operating platforms are Symbian, BlackBerry and iOS.