This Black Friday, if you’re planning on getting a new smartphone or tablet — for business or pleasure — keep in mind that these mobile devices are coming under increasing threat from hackers. According to a recent report from Trend Micro, malware attacks on smartphones jumped from 28,000 incidents at the end of the second quarter of 2012 to 175,000 at the end of the third quarter — a six-fold increase. Although hackers are mainly targeting Android users at this time, security experts report that data stored on any mobile device can be at risk.
Most of the malware that has hit the devices contains adware or spyware, applications that collect owner information which can then be used for fraudulent purposes. Adware is promoted to mobile users as free software in exchange for this personal information. Although some of it is legitimate, hackers can access to personal data once the application has been downloaded. Notaries should use caution when downloading apps from unknown vendors.
This trend is of special concern to those who use mobile devices for sharing or storing sensitive financial or identification information, as many users and lending institutions are not prepared to detect or deter malware attacks. Notaries who use their mobile devices for business or banking purposes can mitigate risk by following recommendations offered by the Internet Crime Complaint Center and a previous Notary Bulletin article.