Threats Against Smartphones Are Rising «

Threats Against Smartphones Are Rising

Successful Smartphone Attacks Are Increasing
The annual Pwn2Own competition is a high-tech Steel Cage Match that pits hackers against technology. Contestants compete to hack selected software and hardware platforms. Not only do the winners get to keep any devices they exploit, but they can also earn significant cash prizes.

Sponsored by the Zero Day Initiative, a project that rewards security professionals for responsibly disclosing vulnerabilities, the competition provides full disclosure to vendors, giving them a chance to plug holes in their software before the bad guys find them.

When the smoke cleared from the 2009 competition, no mobile devices had been breached. But just one year later, European contestants were able to hack into a fully patched iPhone. Around that same time, white hat hackers from the Intrepidus Group hacked into the Palm WebOS with text messages that loaded malicious web pages.

Why Are Smartphones Difficult to Attack?

Quite simply, the limited memory and processing power of most smartphones makes them difficult to attack. A second factor in the limited success of smartphone attacks is the lack of a platform standard. Windows is a tempting target for hackers, because one exploit can open the door to thousands, even millions of computers. There is a very strong financial incentive to create malware that can spred so widely.

Read More: How Cybercrime Pays

How Do Smartphone Attacks Threaten You?

As smartphones become a bigger part of our lives, you can expect the succesful attacks against them to increase. However, unlike the PC attacks that aim to spread malware over as wide a field as possible, smartphone hackers will likely use spear phishing techniques to target individual users or companies. Because a spear phishing attack can target just one user, antivirus companies may never be aware of its existence. As a result, there is little hope of anti-virus software being written for many attacks.


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