Technology

Smartphones becoming popular target for hackers

Friday, May 11, 2012

We've all been warned about the viruses that can infect our computers, but the latest threat has to do with that high-tech device in your pocket or purse. Smartphones are becoming a popular target for malicious hackers. This time, it's your identity they're after.

Visit a coffee shop and you're bound to see people surfing the Internet with their smartphones. Now, close to half of them run Google's Android operating system.

"I've been one of the very first Android users, since I had the Google phone when it first came out," Elaine Wong said.

Wong says she chose Android because it's more open than Apple's iPhone and lets you download apps from more places. But with that freedom comes a risk.

"There's fake apps that are coming out for the Android," Cameron Camp said.

Camp, a security researcher, says one claims to be for the popular sharing site Pinterest. There's just one problem with that -- there's no official Pinterest app.

"But a casual user's not going to necessarily research that, they're going to download it and then who knows what they're going to get," Camp said.

Now, a new scam quietly installs a malicious app on your phone when you visit a hacked website. In the worst case, Camp says, thieves could use that trick to install spyware.

"That captures you as you input a financial transaction and I can remotely have that report off to a server in Estonia, capture that, I can then go and transact on your behalf, clean your bank account out, scary things," Camp said.

There's enough fear that Camp's firm, Eset, is now the latest to launch a security app for Android. Much like the anti-virus software you might have on your PC, it protects against hackers, but not common thieves.

"If you lay your smartphone down and you don't have some kind of auto-locking feature in place, then it's easy for me to get in there and gain access to your information," Camp said.

You phone probably stays logged into Facebook, meaning a thief could impersonate you and scam your friends. A simple pattern-lock helps prevent that, or if you're really worried, a more elaborate password.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
google, cellphone, smartphones, android, hacking, technology, jonathan bloom
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