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Phone threats will soon strike

There are two methods that scammers use to do their dirty business over phone or mobile lines -- smart phones, such as mobile, and the more PC-like phones and regular land lines.

Smart phones
What it is: Threats using smart phones have already been realized in places such as Europe and Japan, according to David Marcus, security research and communications manager for McAfee Avert Labs. While prevalence is currently low in the United States, he says an increase is "something to expect eight or nine months down the road" thanks to a majority of mobile phones adopting fewer mobile platforms such as the Symbian OS.

As mobile phones become more PC-like and as people start doing more office work and financial transactions from their mobile phones, malware will start appearing, he says.

Mobile malware
Later this year, threats that use smart phones to launch malware attacks may emerge. One of those attacks, called "smishing," involves phishing with SMS text messages. A smishing message ultimately tries to lure users to a Web site where they unintentionally download malware.
Here, McAfee's VirusScan Mobile software catches a smishing message.

In a smishing attack, the user may receive an SMS message saying he or she has been subscribed to a dating service. To escape unwanted charges, the user must unsubscribe by going to a Web site, which is named in the message.

The victim then gets on his or her computer and goes to the Web site. To unsubscribe, the user must download an unregistration utility. The actual download contains bot software.

What you can do: Watch out for smishing scams.

Don't store credit card or confidential information on your mobile device if you don't need it, says Marcus. Consider your smart phone a small PC and guard it as such.

If you're really concerned, you might also consider getting mobile security software to protect your smart phone against the latest threats. Companies such as Symantec and McAfee offer such products.

Vishing scams
What is it: Experts say voice phishing attacks, otherwise known as vishing attacks, may not increase this year, but that it's a good idea to watch out for any unsolicited calls, automated or otherwise, that ask for account or personal information. Instead, politely hang up and call the company back using a phone number from a statement or card.

Also watch for Spit (spam over internet telephony), which Marcus says may emerge in 2007.

What you can do: Besides vishing, attacks using VoIP remain largely unexplored territory, but simply understand that any automated telephone call or call from a relay operator could be a scam, no matter what your caller ID reads. Read the Bankrate feature, "New scam to vatch for: vishing" to learn more about how scammers use VoIP for their schemes.

6 types of Internet scams on the prowl:
Attacks using Web 2.0 sites will increase.
Malware will spread through instant messaging.
Volume of image spam will rise.
Phishing e-mails getting more sophisticated, targeted.
Botnets will grow in popularity among cybercriminals.
Phone threats will soon strike.'s corrections policy
-- Posted: Feb. 22, 2007
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