Talk about an alarmist title, right? Perusing CNN’s Technology blog, an article titled “Your Smartphone Will (Eventually) Be Hacked” caught my eye. It’s no secret that smartphone owners store and transmit massive amounts of personal data on a consistent basis—from personal photographs, videos and messages to financial information. The mobile phone has evolved from a device utilized exclusively for telephone communications to what is essentially a mini computer.
So what are the chances that there will be a widespread hacking attempt that will result in high levels of destruction? And why hasn’t there been a massive viral episode yet? Per CNN’s piece, “security experts have warned for years that our smartphones are due for a major cyberattack. Like PCs back in the early days, mobile phones are largely unprotected by antivirus software, and they’re a treasure trove of valuable information.”
Smartphone introduction, development and adoption have occurred at a rapid rate, with popularity increasing year over year for the last several years. A caveat that may potentially affect the performance and operations of the devices is that most owners have not installed and are not currently using antivirus software, making the devices vulnerable.
So why haven’t these vulnerabilities manifested into an actual attack? Per CNN, “basic economics is one reason. Cyberthieves are making so much money attacking Windows PCs that there hasn’t been much incentive to change tactics.”
The Microsoft Windows operating system is a target as the operating system most used by computer owners around the world. The sheer number of people using Windows means that releasing a virus will yield results.
While most people typically use personal computers to shop and maintain finances, more and more people are turning to smartphones. Without proper security protocols in place, smartphones are primed to become the next target for hackers looking to compromise data and collect information. Or are they?
Per CNN, developers have learned from the cybersecurity attacks that accompanied the rise of the PC and are better prepared now. In addition, there is more diversity in smartphone operating systems and platforms than there initially was for personal computers, so hackers can’t just learn how to hack one OS and go to work. In this scenario, fragmentation in the marketplace happens to a huge plus for smartphone owners.
Will smartphones continue to fly under the radar and be less targeted than PCs? Only time will tell. One thing is clear, however. Smartphones do not have the same development and security issues that early PCs did.