4 Internet Security Threats That Target Mobile Devices

Written by on November 8, 2012 in Technology - No comments | Print this page


A majority of Internet security threats targeting mobile devices are based upon the same framework as the ones which target personal computers and laptops.  This makes developing an effective Internet security strategy easier because the same threats exist.  For mobile devices, there are a few exceptions.  Over the past few years, several mobile-only Internet security threats have been released.

QR Codes

The first Internet security threat is tied to QR codes.  QR codes have become a popular marketing tool for legitimate businesses and are now also being used by malicious attackers.  Instead of being taken to a legitimate business website, users are redirected to a malicious website or immediately download an unwanted application.  This application is normally a form of malware or virus.  To avoid falling for a QR code scam, only use ones which are provided directly from well-known advertisers or vendors.

SMS Phishing

SMS phishing or SMiShing uses the same strategy used by email scammers.  The only difference is the delivery medium.  This is particularly dangerous because there are a number of malware applications for mobile devices which provide the malnet operator with the ability to send an SMS directly from an infected mobile device to anyone on the device’s contact list.  The best protection against this type of Internet security threat is to avoid clicking on unknown links within messages.  Additionally, you will probably recognize a difference in the “tone of voice” between the scammer and the contact you know.

Jailbreaking and Rooting

Jailbreaking is a process which removes the limitations originally created by the mobile device’s operating system.  This provides the owner of the mobile device full root access to the operating system as well as all of its features.  Rooting is another term for the same process.  In most cases, jailbreaking is a term reserved for Apple devices and rooting is a term reserved for Android devices.  Both of these practices are not an inherent Internet security risk; however they do make the mobile device more vulnerable.

There are a growing number of legitimate reasons tech-savvy people will undertake this process, but it is normally to use an app which cannot be used within the factory limitations of the operating system.  While this does give users access to additional apps, it also brings additional Internet security risks.  This is because the apps which require jailbreaking/rooting rarely undergo the Apple or Google vetting process to ensure the app is safe to use.

SMS Fraud

At a glance, SMS fraud and SMS phishing may seem like similar Internet security threats, but there is one important distinction.  Phishing scams are designed to collect personal information whereas SMS fraud relies on a malware attack to force the mobile device to place a call or send a text to premium numbers.  The owner of the mobile device then pays hefty fees per call made or text sent.  Instead of gathering information, SMS fraud is focused on immediate profits rather than long-term identity theft.

While a majority of Internet security threats will be prevalent across all types of devices which access the Internet, there are some which only target mobile devices.  Mobile device owners must take these additional Internet security threat seriously and always be alert to the potential risks.

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This is a guest post.  David Lobb uses a VPN to browse freely on his iPad in public hotspots.  Whereas those without a VPN are restricted, he is able to access all of his favorite websites. David helps other see how they can secure their devices and access more websites with internet technology.


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