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The mobile cybercrime scene: An increasingly familiar sight

Effendy Ibrahim | Feb. 20, 2013
Mobile cyber crime is spreading – how do we stay one step ahead?

Another form of such malware is mobile adware, or "madware". Similar to malicious apps, madware sneaks onto a user's mobile device once they have downloaded an app, and sends personal information back to cyber criminals - making use of the location and device information being collected by authentic apps. What is perhaps most disturbing is the potential for rapid growth that these apps have. Unlike burglars, who face increased risk of being caught if they commit the same crime repeatedly, these malicious mobile apps are able to spread quickly and viciously across a network, shared and promoted to friends by unsuspecting users.

Why are mobile users falling prey to simple schemes? Taking a closer look, the Norton Cybercrime Report 2012 revealed that one in three Singaporeans do not understand the risk of cybercrime or how to protect themselves, with three in five Singaporeans not using any form of mobile security. This general lack of awareness towards the dangers and risks is compounded by the fact that cybercriminals are increasingly shifting their attention to mobile devices and social networks, emphasising the need for Singaporeans to take charge of their mobile safety.

"Cybercriminals are developing malicious apps to take advantage of the popularity of mobile devices to surf the Internet. In 2012, an estimated 84 percent of Singaporeans accessed the Internet on their mobile phones[2]. With such a high number of mobile Internet users, it is vital for Singaporeans to be aware of the threats present on mobile devices, and take the necessary steps to keep themselves safe," advised Effendy Ibrahim, Norton Internet Safety Advocate & Director, South Asia, Norton by Symantec.

The fundamentals of mobile safety

 So how do we enhance our mobile safety? Here are some simple things you can do to boost the security of your mobile devices - similar to how you would keep your home safe from burglars:

1.       Only download apps from app stores you trust - just as how you would not allow strangers or shady characters into your homes, do not allow suspicious apps to gain access to your mobile device.

2.       Do not click on unsolicited links from unknown sources - home-owners are usually cautious of door-to-door salesmen that offer great deals; you should be cautious of similar offers you might receive on your mobile device.

3.       Be aware of what information your apps are sharing with others, and adjust your security settings - you would not be comfortable if strangers had a free view of all the rooms in your house; secure your phone the same way you would your home.

4.       Use the latest security software and update your apps regularly - cybercriminals are constantly developing new threats to bypass outdated security patches, stay updated to stay safe.


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