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December 14, 2010

EU warns over smartphone security

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by Darren Allan

ENISA, the IT security agency for the EU, has issued a warning about the growing security risks which come hand in hand with the fast expansion the world of smartphones has seen over the last couple of years.

The Information Security Risks report assesses the security and privacy risks associated with owning a smartphone, and makes recommendations on how best to deal with these.

The report identifies ten main risks, including apps which the user fails to adjust the privacy settings appropriately for, fake phishing apps, spyware, diallerware (malware which dials a premium number), and surveillance, spying on a targeted user’s smartphone.

ENISA notes less obvious concerns than malware, such as GPS technology and location tracking, which could be useful to burglars who can find out details on whether people are at home.

There are also obvious concerns that the report deals with, such as when a phone is stolen, the owner’s sensitive data can be hoovered up by the thief.

Security recommendations for consumers include setting the phone to lock while idle, and to make sure any permission requests are properly read when installing apps. ENISA also mentions checking the reputation of a developer, and ensuring any software is from a trusted source.

Dr. Giles Hogben, Co-Author of the report, commented: “Smartphones are a goldmine of sensitive and personal information – it’s vital to understand how to maintain our control over this data. We’ve designed our recommendations to plug into a typical security policy.”

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