Why Preventing Smartphone Hacks Will Be Harder in the Future

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Thanks to rapid advances in technology, our smartphones are getting cooler by the day. And hackers are using that same technology to make our phones even more prone to attacks. With the rise of pay-by-phone options on the horizon, malware and cybercrime will surely follow.

At one time, the main concern of storing private info on your phone was making sure that your phone wasn’t accidentally misplaced or stolen from your bag or desk. Today, and even more so in the future, the threat of losing photos, banking info, and other personal info comes from the way you use your phone, not from someone else.

With a sluggish economy that’s lasted for years, retailers are doing whatever they can to encourage shoppers to visit their brick and mortar stores and not simply do their shopping online.

Along with a slew of new retailer apps, some merchants are looking into speeding up the purchasing process with technologies like NFC that “allows a user to wave the smartphone over a NFC compatible device to send information without needing to touch the devices together or go through multiple steps setting up a connection.”

While NFC is slowly gaining popularity across the US, giants like eBay and Apple have declined to fully embrace NFC until it makes more sense financially to do so.

So what are the dangers of this new payment method technology? In a New York Times article, Charlie Miller, a security researcher at Accuvant, showed that: 

...by bringing an N.F.C. tag, equipped with a chip, in proximity with an Android Nexus S phone he could send the phone's browser to a malicious Web site and, from there, access the phone's entire file directory and even install monitoring software.

iPhones may not currently be at risk since they are not being built with NFC capabilities, but 70 million smartphones sold this year will include the technology. Add to this a growing number of merchants who are excited to do anything that could boost sales, and perhaps Apple can't afford to avoid NFC forever.

The majority of malware variants are still primarily geared toward PCs. But as consumers store more personal info on their phones, the number of mobile threats has increased dramatically in the past year and will only continue to rise. 

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Noel Wurst

A resident copywriter and editor for TechWell, SQE, and StickyMinds.com, Noel Wurst has written for numerous blogs, websites, newspapers, and magazines. Noel has presented educational conference sessions for those looking to become better writers. In his spare time, he can be found spending time with his wife and two sons—and tending to the food on his Big Green Egg. Noel eagerly looks forward to technology's future, while refusing to let go of the relics of the past.