Apps going viral: When your smartphone gets hacked

How secure is banking on your iPhone? How sure are you that those app developers have plugged those security holes?

How secure is banking on your iPhone? How sure are you that those app developers have plugged those security holes? So far, there isn’t much malicious code out there targeted at smartphones, but that soon may change as smartphone sales surpass those of laptop and desktop machines.

A notable security hole was discovered in June of 2009 in the iPhone app for Citigroup’s banking customers. Before hackers could exploit the vulnerability -- which would have allowed hackers to download banking details for almost 120,000 customers -- Citi pushed out changes to the app, but that doesn’t mean that more banking apps exist with flaws.

With a huge and growing population using phones to do mobile banking, it’d only make sense for tech-savvy thieves to go after bank information on smartphones. While the number of bits of nasty code meant for Android, iOS, and Blackberry phones numbers less than 100 for all of 2010 according to Internet security firm F-Secure, this could change in the coming years if not months. As Intel purchases McAfee and other companies gobble up startup security software firms, Infonetics Research predicts that the market for mobile phone security software will increase to over a billion US dollars in the next three years.

Will attacks focus more on iPhone or Android users? Though sales of both phones are increasing, Google’s lack of checking apps on its Android Market could mean more programs written by malicious developers. Up to five per cent of Android apps can send SMS or dial numbers without the phone owner’s permission, according to SMobile Systems.

Do you have security or anti-virus software installed on your smartphone? Not many people do, but as security threats to smartphones increase, antivirus software, provided by either a big hitter like McAfee or smaller security company, may become commonplace.

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Alessondra Springmann

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