30 Nov 2011

Mobile hacking could explode in 2012

One of the world's largest technical professional associations is predicting that 2012 could be a big year for widespread mobile hacking. IEEE fellow Dr. Jeffrey Voas said there is uncovered malware in more than 2,000 free smartphone apps, which will be the most common entry point for hackers next year. Internet security and mobile antivirus software could also become more popular.

"The issue with free apps is that you're paying a price you don't know about," says Voas, who is also a computer scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "Of free mobile applications, approximately one in 100 now visibly contain malware – and that doesn't even account for the ones where the malware is so hidden it's impossible to spot. This number is growing by the day, and with most of these rogue apps offering good functionality for free, it's easy to be victimized."

Voas said smartphone users need to remember when downloading apps that it may not necessarily be free in the long run if there is an attack on the mobile device. Users must make sure the company uploading the app is reputable.

On the opposite end, Juergen Schmidt, chief editor of a German security publication, told News Factor that antivirus software and internet security for phones aren't a big factor right now. He said they are not current musts for devices, but said the risk for Android phones is higher.