Security pundits have for ages given warning about how the smartphones are all due a massive cyber-attack, courtesy cell phone tracking maneuvers of hackers. Like we had the computers back in the 1990s, cell phones these are not really protected by antivirus software, and with them being a whole closet full of invaluable info, falling prey to cell phone spy software shouldn't surprise anyone. Therefore, one begs the question: where is the smart phone Armageddon that has long been forecasted?
A Lesson in Economics
An economics lesson would divulge a lot. Hackers are making some serious dough courtesy of their attacks on Windows PCs, and hence there hasn't been any reason to jump ship as such. Billions of dollars are stolen in cyber-attacks, so why would the cyber thieves want to penetrate any other defense when they can muster so much money through PC attacks? A recent Verizon-investigated attack revealed a $20 million robbery owing to stolen debit card numbers which was conjured up by a keystroke logger.
Sting in the Tale
Microsoft Windows is oft touted as the “low hanging fruit”; and with a 92% PC market share and nearly 70% of all devices that are Internet connected, Windows is without a shadow of a doubt, the go-to play if you are a money minting hacker. There is a sting in the tale though. Despite a lot of people opting for shopping and online banking from their computers, these particular transactions are becoming frequent via cell phones. And since the cyber thief follows the general direction of money transaction, cell phone tracking might just become the need of the hour now.
Let’s throw in some daunting numbers, shall we? Cell phone cyber-attacks have multiplied six times this current calendar year according to McAfee. Furthermore, 40% of cell phone users click on unsafe links through their smart phones, according to Lookout Security. Even so, less than 20% of smart phones run any sort of antivirus software, according to SANS, while RSA has showcased that one is more likely to fall prey to phishing attacks on cell phones than on a PC.
However, in spite of these numbers, not even a single major cyber-attack has victimized smart phones. So, what could be the reason? One of the main reasons could that that the operating systems on the smart phones have been built from scratch, and extremely recently at that. This is why it is proving to be difficult to easily attack a program on a cell phone, let alone taking control over the device.
Fragmentation is another factor. Like for instance, with a myriad of Google’s Android OS varieties, it is considerably hard to conjure up the distinct code of the multitude of devices. Even Android users, which are the primary malware target on mobile phones, are significantly less vulnerable to hack attacks as compared to computer users. And even though there is a precipitous rise in cell phone threats, but with 13,000 various kinds of cell phone malware, the mobile threats are still nothing compared to the 90 million PC threats dug out by McAfee.
Even so, despite the fact that there is a prodigious gap between PC and mobile attacks, it is only a matter of time before the latter catches up. And this is because mobile has the money now; this is how most transactions are being carried out these days. Smart phones have now taken the role of personal computers – one that travel with us wherever we go; and even though cell phone attacks are difficult to conjure and its space might never have the PC market homogeneity, but the bottom line is that cyber thieves chase the cash.
With smart phones taking over the mantle of being our main devices, the cyber criminal’s motivation to exploit them is growing. And therefore all they would need is a booboo by Apple or Google and the next thing you know there’d be a keystroke logger wreaking havoc with the money of millions of users.