Feature Article

July 10, 2012

Mobile Advertisements Could be Stealing Your Information

The more people rely on mobile technology such as cell phones and tablets, the more opportunities hackers and thieves have to try and steal information – everything from your credit card numbers to contacts.

As if you didn’t already have enough to worry about when using these devices, now a new study is showing that phones are getting hacked from advertisements.

According to CNN, tens of thousands of smartphones have already been hacked due to ads that change the smartphone settings and take contact information without permission. How do you get exposed to these ads on a mobile phone? They come in the form of text messages, notifications, in-app ads and through the browser.

Right now, 5 percent of free mobile apps use an “aggressive” ad network to make money, meaning they have the ability to send you these types of ads that will later cost you money or steal your information. According to the study, 19,200 of the 384,000 apps it tested used malicious ad networks and had been downloaded over 80 million times.

Kevin Mahaffey, CTO for Lookout, said these types of attacks have been around since the invention of computers, but could be harder to figure out. “Sometimes you download 10 apps at a time, so you don’t know which is responsible,” said Mahaffrey.

Mahaffey added a warning against applications that use ad networks, such as Moolah Media, Leadbolt, Mocean Mobile and PhoneLiving. Mahaffey said these companies are known to publish apps with aggressive ad tactics, which could be stealing your information as you read this.

But everyone doesn’t need to run and throw away his or her smartphone. There are ways to protect yourself against some attacks.

StaySafeOnline, a company that specializes in security and works with the National Cyber Security Alliance, offered tips to mobile users explaining that if your phone is lost or stolen, report it immediately; never respond to a text message you don’t know, and make sure you know how to block people from calling your phone.

Just be vigilant, according to Mahaffey, and make sure you are aware of what you’re downloading, where the app is from and who developed it. Doing research is your best protection against malware.

Want to learn more about today’s powerful mobile ecosystem? Then be sure to attend the
Mobility Tech Conference & Expo, collocated with ITEXPO West 2012 taking place Oct. 2-5 2012, in Austin, TX. Co-sponsored by TMC Partner Crossfire Media the Mobility Tech Conference & Expo provides unmatched networking opportunities and a robust conference program representing the mobile ecosystem. The conference not only brings together the best and brightest in the wireless industry, it actually spans the communications and technology industry. For more information on registering for the Mobility Tech Conference & Expo click here.

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Edited by Braden Becker

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