Smartphone Cyber Attacks to Grow in 2013

Smartphones are everywhere—kids, consumers and businesses have all embraced these amazing devices—and hackers are taking advantage of these new targets. Because smartphones run the same software as many computers, they have similar vulnerabilities, which hackers can target. But smartphones have other capabilities, including their connection to other devices, like Bluetooth, that hackers can exploit.

As more smartphones are used to make mobile payments, these systems are expected to be increasingly targeted by cybercriminals in 2013. According to a recent CNN article, 300 million smartphones will be equipped with near-field communication chips, which are required for mobile payments, with nearly $50 billion in global NFC transactions expected this year.

In addition to mobile payment attacks, security analysts also expect an increase in ransomware that targets smartphones. In a ransomware attack, a mobile phone is infected with malware that takes control of the phone and data until the phone's owner pays money to regain control of the phone.

Google's Android operating system has been the target of most hackers, but attacks on Apple's iPhone are expected to escalate.

"Apple's 'walled garden' approach makes it difficult for third parties to protect it," said Tom Kellerman, head of cybersecurity at Trend Micro and former commissioner of President Obama's cybersecurity council. "We will see many more viable attacks on iOS, because hackers know that the wealthiest people tend to own Apple devices. The walled garden will eventually fall."

Despite these predictions, security analysts agree that the greatest risk to smartphone security comes from simple carelessness. Most personal data is taken from smartphones when they're lost or stolen and aren't protected by a password. According to Verizon, these attacks on lost or stolen phones will exceed mobile malware and other smartphone exploits.

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