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Smartphones and tablets – the next big threat to cyber security?

Almost everyone has a smartphone, and the number of tablet owners is growing every day. We might think they are immune to online threats, but Kaspersky warns that this definitely isn’t the case



Apple’s iPhone is undoubtedly one of the most popular smartphones around, but there are relatively few threats that target it. This is mainly due to Apple’s closed system of handling all software updates, monitoring app submissions and essentially locking down the phone to perform just the tasks it approves. However, once you jailbreak your device, security holes soon become targets.

One of the more prolific iPhone attacks changed your wallpaper to a message telling you your phone was insecure, followed by a web link that would request money to close the security hole. Jailbreaking a phone can take minutes over a Wi-Fi connection, simply by visiting a website; if left unattended, someone could install software on your phone that would be more profitable than the phone hardware itself on the black market.

iPhone hack

Although losing personal information, money or account details to a hacker will be distressing for an individual, mobile devices are likely to pose a much greater security risk to companies in the not too distant future. Because they aren’t protected in the same way as PCs, there’s almost no way for a company to know what dangers lurk on its employees’ phones. Many people wouldn’t think twice about connecting their smartphone to the company Wi-Fi network, but there’s a possibility that advanced malware could infect a phone then lie dormant, ready to activate once it connects directly to a wireless access point. We aren’t quite there yet, but as mobile operating systems get more complex and desktop systems begin to support mobile applications, it won’t be long until this becomes a reality.


With these dangers in mind, it’s important to keep your smartphone safe and secure. We’ve put together a list of tips that can help you stay safe.

• If you don’t already, make sure to use a lock-screen password. If you lose your phone no-one will be able to access your personal information, or tamper with it if you leave it unattended.

• Use security software – Although this is dependent on your phone’s operating system, there are plenty of mobile Anti-virus apps available to download. Android in particular is more susceptible to threats than any other OS right now, so it makes sense to stay protected.

• Only connect to secure wireless access points. You have no idea who else could be connected to a particular Wi-Fi hotspot, or what programs they could be running, so stay safe and only use secure channels.

• Back up your data and use encryption where possible – you probably have email and social networking accounts on your phone, and possibly even bank details. If you don’t want them falling into the wrong hands, encryption is one of the best ways to keep them safe.

• Don’t install untrusted apps – when pirated versions of paid-for apps are just a short Google search away, it can be tempting to try and save your money, but you have no idea if the files contain malicious code. Don’t risk it, and stick to the official app store.

• Finally, don’t jailbreak or root your device. It might let you do some cool things like tweak your phone’s theme, but the security holes it creates just aren’t worth it.

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