It’s official — smart phones are more popular than regular cell phones. And this isn’t a statistic that is lost on the hackers. New iPhone security threats appear seemingly every week. Only in August, security researchers found a virus for Android smartphones that recorded people’s calls and tried to send them over the Internet to whoever pulled the strings. The government of Germany is so worried about iPhone security that they been warning Apple about doing something about the threats to its phone operating system.
Smart phones are so new today that the virus makers aren’t even sure yet how to go about their business. People have known for ages that computer viruses threatened their personal information; and they have bought antivirus. Smartphone owners aren’t really catching on so far and it’s open season for hackers and other criminals. They know that if they get in now, it’s rich pickings.
Criminals love the iPhone because people put everything they have the right into their phone — lots of e-mail addresses, financial information — just everything about their lives. They just need to hit a phone once to walk away with a treasure trove of information. Some of the worst attacks on smartphones try to use the attacked phone to make calls. At the end of the month, the subscriber is likely to get a bill for thousands of dollars.
Looking for proof that threats to smartphone security are really growing? Smartphone security firm Lookout reports that while in the beginning of 2011, there were only a couple of hundred attacks on smartphones a day; by the end of 2011, there are thousands of attacks every day. That’s a tenfold increase over one year.
One of the most serious iPhone security attacks occurred in April. It was actually kind of an appeal to human greed that got the hackers into those phones. They offered iPhone owners an app that they said would help them run pirated software on their phones. Of course, when greedy iPhone owners did that, and they found that they had a virus. The fact that the iPhone stores location data about where users have been makes it only more dangerous in this situation.
Still, if security is your concern, you should probably go with the iPhone and not Android. Every app for the iPhone is pre approved by Apple. Google doesn’t pre approve anything on the Android Market. So far, Google has removed hundreds of apps from the Android Market on suspicions that they were viruses.
One Android virus has been particularly clever. It subscribes a phone owner to a daily trivia quiz surface. You keep getting these daily quizzes on your phone. You just never notice that it’s a paid service that gets added to your phone bill. Thankfully, this kind of thing is almost unheard of on the iPhone. In cases where legitimate apps have been free with your money, Apple has stepped in.
Once again, when it comes to security, the iPhone wins.