Imagine someone recording your conversation while you discuss confidential company information or money being withdrawn from your account through mobile phones without your consent. That’s the new world of mobile phone hacking.

After computers, mobile phones are now being targeted by spammers and hackers to gain confidential information and make money by duping the public.

According to data security solutions provider Symantec, many people use their mobile devices to store information such as their passport numbers and other high-value data, which drastically increases the ‘haul’ for a cyber criminal who successfully attacks the device.

“To date, around 400 threats on mobiles have been identified. While this may appear minuscule as compared to the four million threats for computers, the dangers to users are very real,” Symantec India Managing Director Vishal Dhupar told PTI.

Some of the common mobile threats include Smishing, Pranking For Profit, Snoopware, Bluejacking and Bluesnarfing.

Smishing, for example, is when SMS and MMS are used for spamming and phishing activity.

The attacker sends a SMS onto a phone which comes with a link, clicking on which causes a trojan to be installed on the mobile phone.

Pranking for profit refers to attacks intended to steal money from infected smartphones. The infected handset sends premium SMS messages to a website that withdraws money from a bank or credit account before the user or network realises.

“With monthly addition of more than 15 million users every month, it is but obvious that mobile devices, including phones, are fast becoming the favourite target for mobile hackers in India, much like in the rest of the world,” Dhupar said.

Apart from hacking the smartphone, installation of snoopware on the handset also allows hackers to remotely access the smartphone and listen to private conversations or confidential corporate meetings.

“Such software is also capable of viewing a calendar and list of contacts on a handheld device, making it easier for a cyber criminal to know exactly which meetings are worth eavesdropping,” Dhupar said.

Such attacks are, however, not limited to just smartphones.

“There are a whole range of mobile attacks, from those launched through SMS to those executed with the help of Bluetooth. This means that mobile phones of every kind from the low-cost ones to the high-end smartphones are targets,” he said.

Dhupar said consumers need to be cautious and use security software solutions for their mobile phones as well.

Companies like Symantec, Kaspersky Labs and many others are now focusing on bringing out solutions for handsets as well.

“Consumers also need to be cautious and adopt a password policy, like they have for their PCs. Any changes in activity should be noticed and checked,” he added.

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