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Hackers Try to Crack Smartphones

February 9, 2011

A report by the security firm McAfee says the number of cyber attacks on smartphones increased dramatically in 2010.

According to the McAfee Threats Report: Fourth Quarter 2010, new mobile malware increased 46 percent in 2010 versus the year before. The company also found 20 million new pieces of malware in 2010, equating to nearly 55,000 a day.

"Our Q4 Threats Report shows that cybercriminals are keeping tabs on what's popular, and what will have the biggest impact from the smallest effort," said Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of McAfee Labs, in a press release. "McAfee Labs also sees the direct correlation between device popularity and cybercriminal activity, a trend we expect to surge in 2011."

McAfee Labs is looking for an increase in attacks on new mobile platforms seen as easy pickings by cyber-criminals because of a "lack of security awareness and mobile safeguards."

On the upside (sort of), spam accounted for 80 percent of total emails in the fourth quarter of 2010, the lowest level since the first quarter of 2007.

Discussion Questions:

Discussion Question: What will increased cyber-criminal activity mean for retailers operating mobile commerce platforms?

While we value unfettered opinion, we urge you to show respect and courtesy for people or companies about whom you comment. Keep in mind that this is a public, professional business discussion. RetailWire reserves the right to edit or refuse the publication of remarks that we deem unsuitable. We may also correct for unintended spelling and grammatical errors.

Instant Poll:

How big an impediment are security concerns to sales conducted through mobile devices?


Of course they're trying. That's what criminals do. Oddly, I haven't heard of any success stories, and my most jaded side says "McAfee smells a business opportunity."

Having said that, of course eventually they will succeed. My hope is that retailers and phone providers work together to find ways to avoid sending credit card info over the lines.

After all, we used to say that "no one hacks a Mac because it's not popular enough to be worthwhile." That's not true anymore, and there still are very few, if any, hacks. So I believe it is possible to conduct mobile business in a secure way.

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Paula Rosenblum, Managing Partner, RSR Research

I think it means that m-commerce will not grow as rapidly as it would otherwise. With all the spam e-mails, malware, spyware, phishing e-mails, etc, it is clear (to me) that e-commerce would be doing better than it already is if it weren't so scary to many people. The same will be true for m-commerce.

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Al McClain, CEO, Founder, RetailWire.com

Criminal cyber activity is expanding to the extent that any size company that attempts to sell through the internet is now unable to accurately predict security and disaster recovery costs over a given time. There are no ramifications for those that wish to make a living by hacking corporate business systems as long as they stick to businesses outside their own country's borders. The needed materials to locate origins and authors of any type invasive script exist and are infallible in design and use. As long as governments throughout the world consider due process as a territorial invasion or an invasion of free speech this problem will continue to grow as we are seeing with WikiLeaks. This could even escalate much further due to the cost of keyboards vs. guns.


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