10 things you need to know about mobile security – Omri Sigelman, AVG

Omri Sigelman-VP Products and Marketing of Mobile SolutionsEvery week, we ask our members to sum up everything we need to know about a given topic in 10 easy to digest morsels.  This week  Omri Sigelman  from internet and mobile security provider, AVG Technologiesshines a light on mobile security.

Everyone knows about the stratospheric growth of mobile usage throughout the world, but what is often overlooked is that as smartphone use is growing, so are the threats targeted at mobile users.

Technology research firm Gartner is predicting that Smartphone sales in 2013 will hit 1 billion units, and while consumers clearly love them, there’s a lack of awareness of just how much information they could stand to lose if their device gets hacked or compromised.

Consumers still seem to be unaware that their smartphone is really a  little pocket computer which stores a wealth of information, such as a contact’s details in your phonebook, emails, sometimes even corporate data or business intelligence, and mobile online banking, and that’s forgetting for a moment the trove of personal information contained in photos, apps and games, email and social media accounts.

Your smartphone really is your digital world in a handy device that makes phone calls as well and with it comes a level of security risk nearly comparable to your laptop or home PC, just without the same amount of data stored on the hard drive!

Here are five stats that will make you sit up and think a bit about mobile security:

  1. Mobile threats on the rise: In Q4 2012, AVG’s Threat Labs detected close to 4 million mobile threats, many of which were designed specifically for Android™ devices, which currently is the most popular mobile platform. The most common Android malware app out there today is is a simple compass tool and the most prolific type of mobile attack is PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs), along with app repackaging, malicious URLs and smishing (phishing with SMS).
  2. Intimate photos: An AVG study in the US and UK  this year found that one in four mobile customer’s stores intimate photos or videos on their smartphone or tablet.
  3. Lack of awareness: 70% of mobile users are unaware of security features that will allow them to remotely wipe or delete data if a device is stolen or lost, according to the AVG study. 
  4. Mobile threat geography: Most mobile threats are detected in Russia (14%), then Thailand (8%) and UK (7%), according to AVG Quarterly Threat Report, Q4 2012
  5. Man-in-the-mobile: Last year, AVG detected a type of malware called Zitmo, (aka Zeus-in-the-mobile), which is a form of man-in-the-mobile attack. This is sophisticated malware that side-steps the two-step authentication required to complete mobile banking transactions and so allows cyber criminals to gain access to your bank accounts. 

And now, our top five tips to keep your mobile safe and secure:

  1. Banking Apps: If you do use an online banking app, ensure you only use the official app provided by your bank. Download the app from official app stores only and not from unknown sources, that could lead to your device becoming compromised by hackers.
  2. Emails and SMS messages: Be wary of clicking on links in email or SMS messages. As a rule, do not respond to unsolicited messages on your phone.  Remember: your bank will never email you a message that asks you to disclose your personal PIN number or full password.
  3. Passwords: Ensure you set up a password or PIN properly to protect access to your device.
  4. Avoid Public Wi-Fi Networks:  Tempting as it maybe avoid public wifi, particularly for making sensitive transactions, such as online banking.  Any time before you log into your account, make sure you are not connected to public Wi-Fi. If you are using a smartphone, disable the Wi-Fi and switch to a cellular network.
  5. AntiVirus:  Make sure you have downloaded a decent anti virus program for your smartphone and consider using a reputable brand, such as AVG’s free AntiVirus for Android devices.

I am really pleased that our COO John Giamatteo is participating in the MEF MCommerce panel at the CTIA conference in Las Vegas. His panel session is called: “What the future holds for brands, retailers and content” and should be a very enjoyable session.

Omri Sigelman is VP of Products and Marketing of Mobile Solutions at AVG Technologies.

Follow AVG on Twitter @officialAVGnews

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