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Smartphones’ malware-free glory days may soon be over

Published Mar 5th, 2013 7:55AM EST
Smartphone Malware Analysis

One downside of shifting to a post-PC world is the inevitable development and refinement of post-PC malware. Technology Review this week spoke with security researchers who say that they’re seeing an upgrade in both the quantity and sophistication of mobile malware attacks as hackers try to create a winning formula for distributing malware to mobile devices. At the moment, the researchers say that cybercriminals are experimenting with injecting malware into popular mobile websites and quietly installing it onto users’ devices whenever they visit compromised pages.

Chris Astacio, a researcher at security company Websense, tells Technology Review that while he was reverse engineering the latest version of the Blackhole malware that was recently found on NBC websites, he discovered that it “now specifically looks out for iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.” So while surfing the web on your smartphone or tablet has largely been a safe and stress-free activity in the past, it seems that the world’s cybercriminals are hard at work making mobile websites just as dangerous as desktop websites.

“The bad guys haven’t found the right way to get money from the user,” Jamie Blasco, a researcher at security firm AlienLabs, tells Technology Review. “But probably it will happen.”

And when that does happen Astacio says, it means that companies will have to push out a lot more security updates to their devices as they scramble to patch the latest security holes opened up by malicious hackers.

“To constantly have to update those devices is a business decision they don’t want to have to make,” Astacio told Technology Review.

Prior to joining BGR as News Editor, Brad Reed spent five years covering the wireless industry for Network World. His first smartphone was a BlackBerry but he has since become a loyal Android user.