Symantec Issues World Cup Mobile Security Warning

Online security firm Symantec has warned football fans heading for the World Cup in S. Africa to be on their guard against phishing and other attacks on their mobile phones.  To date, around 400 threats covering all mobile platforms have been identified and while this may appear miniscule when compared to the 4 million threatening PC platforms, the dangers to users are very real, the company says.

“Today’s smartphones are vulnerable to malicious activity such as phishing, scam websites and even drive-by downloads where malicious codes such as Trojans can infect the device,” says Symantec senior security researcher, Candid Wüest. “Bizarrely, the biggest threat to fans is to lose their phone. All major phone brands that provide access to the internet carry significant amounts of business and personal information, which, if the device is lost or stolen, can be accessed easily by criminals.”

While some phones do offer a degree of encryption protection, Wüest warns that this can be bypassed. “Fans should back up photographs and videos to a PC or an online storage facility like Google as soon as possible,” he says.

Wi-fi hotspots are common in S. Africa and Wüest believes users should ensure they are valid. “Try and verify that they are valid services or you could very well find your phone has been taken over by a criminal,” he warns. “Also, take care when using social networks like Twitter and Facebook, as criminals often use them to ascertain when people will be away from home. It will certainly cast a damper on the experience if fans find their homes have been cleaned out while they are away enjoying 2010,” he says.

Symantec has compiled a checklist that fans can use to ensure their mobiles are protected against cybercrime:

  • Never leave your phone unattended. Mobile phones are in high demand in S. Africa; the risk of theft is very real and the consequences of data loss can be severe
  • Back up all data, including photos and videos, to a PC or other storage centre as soon as possible
  • Delete unsolicited or suspicious texts immediately
  • When surfing the internet, stick to legitimate or familiar websites
  • Be very careful about personal information posted to social networks like Facebook and Twitter
  • Be very careful when using Bluetooth – invisible mode is advised
  • Use intelligent passwords, both for your mobile or any service you might log onto
  • Plan ahead – download any information you might need, such as maps, accommodation details before you leave home

There’s more information here.