mCrime Takes A Leap Into Profitability For Criminals

Cellular phones are becoming a bigger target for crime. As smartphones continue replacing landlines and billions of new applications are downloaded, mobile crime, or mCrime, will inevitably increase.

McAfee’s threat report for the fourth quarter of 2010 reveals steady growth of threats to mobile platforms. New mobile malware increased by 46% in 2010. 20 million new threats were discovered last year, or 55,000 per day. McAfee Labs has identified a total of nearly 55 million pieces of malware. 36% of that malware was created in 2010.

Senior VP of McAfee Labs Vincent Weafer says, “Our Q4 Threats Report shows that cybercriminals are keeping tabs on what’s popular, and what will have the biggest impact from the smallest effort… In the past few quarters, malware trends have been very similar in different geographies, but in the last quarter we’ve seen a significant shift in various regions, showing that cybercriminals are tapped in to trends worldwide. McAfee Labs also sees the direct correlation between device popularity and cybercriminal activity, a trend we expect to surge in 2011.”

Protect yourself from malware and other threats. Spyware can be remotely or directly installed on your cell phone. Never click on links in texts or emails, since links may point toward malicious downloads. Keep your phone with you. Don’t let it out of your sight and don’t share it. Make sure your phone requires a password, as this makes it more difficult to install spyware.

If your phone is behaving oddly or you have some other reason to suspect that it contains spyware, reinstall the operating system. Consult your user manual or call your carrier’s customer service for step-by-step help with this process.

Invest in a service that can locate, lock, or wipe your phone, and even restore your data when you trade it in for a new one. If necessary, you’ll be able to lock down your service remotely or wipe out important stored data to protect your privacy. You can back up your data directly or use the web to so remotely. You can access your data online from anywhere, or locate your missing phone and plot the location on a map. If it’s lost or stolen, SIM cards and phone calls can help get it back for you.

Robert Siciliano, personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto, discusses mobile phone spyware on Good Morning America. Disclosures

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