CIOs Expect Smartphone Cyberattacks To Rise

Posted by on in Security

Cyber criminals expected to go after smartphones more often this year, especially as the use of phones as mobile wallets increases.

Why are smartphones so vulnerable to cyber attacks? Mostly because they operate on the same operating system software that smartphone users just happen to use on their computers. Smartphones have many additional capabilities that hackers seek to exploit. They can connect to other potentially vulnerable devices using Bluetooth and send and receive text messages as an example.

So you are a CIO but you are not real strong in the area of InfoSec, or Information Security or more generally Information Assurance but you wish to make sure you are covering all of the bases at your organization and want to make sure you get the big picture stuff and prioritize properly so you can justify the hire of a CISO to the CEO or CFO.  

 It really is just a matter of time, good hackers are really just good at exploiting vulnerabilities. This is why so many CIOs are nervous and are increasingly hiring a CISO to deal with the issues. 

Smartphones are also increasingly being used as mobile wallets. This is why cybersecurity experts and CISOs  believe mobile payment systems are likely to be the next big target for cyber criminals.

According to recent research from Juniper Networks approximately 300 million smartphones around the world will be equipped with the near-field communications (NFC) chips needed for mobile payments. Juniper predicts global NFC transactions will total nearly $50 billion this year. Those projections will continue to grow and accelerate over the next decade.

As is typically the case the underlying NFC technology is very secure, holes are introduced by the applications designed to use it as they are insecurely layered on top of it. The application is only as secure as it's weakest link. Many times the weakest link are the people that use the devices, other times it is simply a poorly designed application.

According to analysts, mobile payments will be one of the most popular phone attack method followed closely by ransomware. Ransomeware is simply malware that takes control of a user's device and data, relinquishing it only if the user pays money or a ransom to the cyber attacker.

Researchers from McAfee believe ransomware will become a "prominent trend" in 2013. Others expect ransomware to graduate from attacking "celebrity victims" to regular consumers and the business community at large this year.

The use of ransomeware is prevalent today as many PCs and laptops routinely get infected with a virus and then the user is suckered into believing they need to purchase a virus cleaning program  to restore the normal operation of their device. People are vulnerable, that is why a good Information Assurance program a your organization should include basic training for end users on what types of behavior to avoid.

So far, the vast majority of mobile malware has infected smartphones that run Google's  Android operating system. But some experts say iPhone users should not get too comfortable. Though Apple is very restrictive about allowing third-party apps to communicate with other software, that also makes antivirus apps less potent to defend against Web-based attacks. 


You can never win at cyber warfare, you can only remain diligent and continuously patch and upgrade your systems to make them secure from the latest vulnerabilities. This is what keeps CIOs and CISOs up at night.







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Bill has been a member of the technology and publishing industries for more than 25 years and brings extensive expertise to the roles of CEO, CIO, and Executive Editor. Most recently, Bill was COO and Co-Founder of and the parent company PSN Inc. Previously, Bill held the position of CTO of both Wiseads New Media and