Most of us have taken steps to protect our home and business computers with anti-virus software and firewalls. Now that cell phones are used as handheld computing devices, we need to start thinking about smart security measures for our smartphones.
For example, if you receive a text message claiming you have won a $1,000 Target gift card or urging you to download a hot, new web game for free, the Washington State Attorney General’s Office urges you not to fall for it. In a consumer alert, the Attorney General’s Office warns of a malicious smartphone application called SpamSoldier that infects through links in text messages.
The app is clever because it hides itself on the smartphone, connecting to a central server for further instructions and deleting all of its activities from the phone. SpamSoldier sends hundreds of spam messages from the infected phone while pretending to be from reputable companies, and even intercepts incoming text replies. In some cases the malicious app may download the “free” game as a smokescreen, to further keep the smartphone user unaware of its activities.
For those who have a limit on text messages or pay for each text, the texting activities of SpamSoldier – along with the costs – will show up on their bill. Unfortunately, the security firm that spotted this smartphone malware believes it is just a test for a far more vicious version in the future.
In order to keep smartphones cyber-secure, consumers are urged to take security measures. Here are some tips for safe smartphone use:
• Don’t download apps from a text message. Like spam email, devious senders can mask who they really are.
• No matter how tempting it is, resist clicking that link for something free.
• Only download apps from reputable vendors, such as those that come pre-installed on your smartphone.
• Check your cell phone bill for unexpected text messaging and other unauthorized charges.
Visit the Federal Communication Commission’s Smartphone Security Checker at http://www.fcc.gov/ smartphone-security for steps to secure your smartphone.
To arm yourself with more knowledge and to protect from cyber threats at home, work and school, and in public, visit the Department of Homeland Security’s Stop.Think.Connect. website at http://www.dhs.gov/ stopthinkconnect.
Erin T. Dodge, BBB Editor