PickPocket Biggest Cyber Threat for 2011

STOP! THIEF! Grab him, he’s got his hand in your pocket right now.

A staggering 140 million smart phones were sold last year and you can bet the bad guys are taking advantage of it. For most people, smartphones are always on and always providing access to valuable data.

Smartphones are being used for email, texting, billpaying and banking. All the threats that have ravaged your home computers are now coming to you pocket. Be very aware of what you click and the text you open

The attack on smart phones started with the use of texting. Unsuspecting users would open their phone bill and find charges totaling $100s more than they were expecting. In many cases even your carrier is picking your pocket by charging you for texting update information. You couldn’t refuse and you must pay for it. Want it or not, like it or not, if you receive text messages you are being charged.

Take a look at your most recent cell bill. Unless you have specifically unsubscribed, you will find a charge for Premium Text Messaging. Now check your previous phone bills and I bet you find you have been charged for quite a while. Simply telling your provider to stop will not stop the charges. If you have unknowingly given permission to these scammers, your cell company cannot stop the charges.

    What To Do.

1. You first need to ask your provider to put a block on future Premium Text Messaging. This will protect you from accidentally subscribing to new scams. In the future be very careful about who you give your phone number to. I never provide my phone number at the checkout counter when asked.

Never respond to text messages from MySpace, Facebook, or gimmicks that suddenly appear on your phone. I take the attitude that if someone wants to be my friend that much, they need to swing by the house so I can get to know them.

2. Now you need to stop the pick pockets that are already stealing from you. There will be a 5 digit number on your bill used to identify the Premium Text Message Service. Take that code and text the word “Stop” or “Unsubscribe” to the slick scammers who are picking your pocket.

Your provider should now send you the confirmation message that you have successfully unsubscribed.

3. Don’t forget your teens. Teenagers do more texting that any other group. Different surveys give different figures but you can count on your teen for between 50 to 300 texts a day. Be sure to block Premium Text Messaging for their phones and check that there are no existing scammers already billing.

Trojan attacks will continue to grow and the once unknown Malware-as-a Service is already the subject of many articles addressing rising security issues. We can expect that all current threats will be coming soon to our smart phones. Infact you better check and button up.

What Next

Will your phone need an antivirus just like your home computer? Will there be as many maintenance applications for you phone as for your laptop? Let me know what you think. Give your thoughts below.

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Lookout Mobile Security

CNN

Security Week

SmartPlanet

Texting Charges

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35 thoughts on “PickPocket Biggest Cyber Threat for 2011

  1. Shogun’s article aside, which gives good info, all the comments seem a little reactionary. With every step forward we take a little risk, make a little adjustment, and on we move. Here, the threat of scams and the need to protect your phone that now looks a lot like a computer seems like a logical result of the new technology. So, rather than act surprised and pine for the old days, I think we need to just embrace the logical adjustments suggested here and move on. No need to throw the phone away. It would be nice if the phone companies were more helpful in fighting for their customers . . . Sounds like a lot of people like Verizon but I’m near an Air Force base and for some reason that blocks reception.

    Personally, I just hope the criminals stay home trying to break into my personal data to get my money rather than hitting me over the head or knifing me on the street to get it! Somehow I don’t think the guys that stay home and hack are the same ones running around on the street though. Oh well.

  2. Several States, like Washington, have already passed laws making it illegal to text while driving, no talking either unless it’s hands off. I got a Verizon, pay as you go for Xmas last year, costs me $1.99 on only the days I use it, includes free calls to anywhere in the country, and texting is only 2 cents per message, making the max I could pay in any month $61.60 for 31 days plus texting, which I don’t use, and as always the best protection is don’t give out your number to anyone you wouldn’t invite into your home for dinner. And of course always verify the monthly bill because that’s your job/responsibility. Beware that the viruses and hackers are on the way, it’s just the nature of the criminal mind.

  3. I have Verizon and had the extra charges when my neice signed up for a couple of things and I got an extra $200 on my phone bill. Verizon put the block on,removed the charges and told me to call back if any carryover charges showed up on the next bill. We also had to text STOP to the 5 digit number that came through a couple of times. Verizon was very helpful. The Block has helped. You can do it yourself online.

  4. My mom feel for this and got me to do it but I got them to stop go figer my mom did it and I stopped it lol. Though little pop ups or ad “here can you figur this out” or ” IQ test answer these 10 questions” or something along thoughs line as a test. When you put in your cell number it charges then for $9.99 a month si we were paying $20. I saw the change and my mom contacted Verizon and they told her “its a third party they have a contract with put heres what to do to stop them this number XXXXX (sorry I don;t remember it) and they they wont charge us. We texted them which stopped them.

    Saddly though a month later we were charged again and the people were telling us “Oh well our computer says you started it at this time (A month before you feel for the scam)” I did not pay and I contacted Verizon (Fronter) and talked with them and they put a block on all of thoughs type of text scams.

    So even though you got them to stop Verizon will still try and get you to pay for it even if you only had it for a moonth they will try and charge you a month extra. Not all will but watch Verizon is scaming you too. well if thy think they can.

  5. I do not understand the reason that these devices are called smartphones. They are computers with phone capabilities. I was at the bank yesterday and asked the teller about online banking with these devices. She responded by saying that there shouldn’t be a problem. Sheesh!

    I like mine very much. Including the camera, the weather, unlimited talk, text, and email access. It’s well under $100.00. BUT I never do anything important with this. I use my PC and be sure that I have an https: in the address.

  6. Hmm, unlike another poster I have had only positive experiences with AT&T. I have never been charged for a text from them. I don’t have texting minutes on my plan cos I seldom text anyone. If I want to send a text or picture to someone I just pay the per message charge which always ends up being less than the cheapest text plan, which is $5 per month with AT&T. Really, I’ve had no problems. Oh, I also seldom access the net through my phone, so I have the cheapest data plan as well. I LOVE the rollover minutes. In fact, I accrued so many that I got 2 months free in order that I use them up. So, yeah, I LOVE AT&T. (I’ve been with them for over 2 years now.)

  7. Smart Phones are the next abusive addiction.. the new drug.

    Gotta have it and everyone pays the price to get it.. regardless of how much it costs.

    I refuse to pay what the mainstream carriers charge for each little service/package. They could be charging less than what it costs for landlines.. Oh wait.. you’re paying for the phone too. Supposedly the reason you are hooked to a contract (US only).

    I have no contract.. I pay as I go. I have messaging, email, and data. I just don’t abuse it.

  8. “# Derik Sanderson Says:
    January 13th, 2011 at 11:07 am

    I say make it against the law to text message in your vehicles while on the road or in traffic if you are behind the steering wheel. $400 fine should do nicely to stop people from doing it. Especially irresponsible kids.”

    It is illegal here in Britain but as the law is almost unenforceable it has made not the slightest difference.

    As far as phishers and their toxic ilk are concerned, when using a smartphone you need to keep your wits about you just as you do when using a PC (and the only emails I open on mine are those from friends that I trust.

    The problem is, as soon as they engage with their mobe, most people appear to disengage their brain – never a good thing.

  9. I am subscribed to Telstra in Australia, for my mobile service, they tell me that i must monitor all calls,and text messages, for one month, to let them record the messages,i must also hold the line open for 3 minutes (for receiving a text message ?????) and i also have to log all the calls.

    After complaining about these texts, i was also told that blocking calls from my phone, does not stop my mobile from receiving these calls, i must Reply “stop” to these texts, i asked why i was not told this when i blocked all premium SMS’s from my phone, they could not explain this.

    When the messages come in now, they come in with no telephone number.

    This has all happened when i was told by Faceboob, that i had to put my Mobile in to be able to recover my Page if stolen ?????? Like a fool . i believed them, and have not been able to find a contact anywhere in Facebook

  10. We’ve had a cell phone since the days of Airtouch and 360 Communications, and have never had a problem with premium texting, nor identity theft. It’s like people complaining about pron on their PCs…never had that either. We are heavy users of texting and web on our phones and never had any problems. Maybe our day is coming…

  11. Was surfing recently on my iPhone using safari and got a “Your Computer Has Been Infected” scam message; deleted the page but all my music files were gone in a blink. We are going to need some kind of security and anti keylogging or malware protection for these devices.

  12. I’m sticking with my iPhone…a gazillion secure apps to choose from (Apple screens them all before allowing them to be published), so many compatible gadgets to enhance it’s capabilities, it does everything I need it to do & it does it really well & way more secure than other platforms. Why would I risk a far less secure platform, especially when one tends to run their life from their smart phone? Has anyone heard of an iPhone virus yet? If so, I’d be very interested to hear about it.

  13. Great article, thanks. I too have used the free version of the mobile phone security app “Lookout”, on my HTC desire phone, which is running the froyo udate to the Android operating system. “Lookout” is great and compatible over a wide variety of Android based phones, according to user feedback.Highly recommended.

  14. Excellent Info. With the rise of ID theft and the huge number of cell options available, this is going to be a big problem. I think the only reason it isn’t already is because the cellular services are fairly “regional” and don’t extend into many off-shore venues. That isn’t really protection but it slows down some malware developers. It won’t stop them though. Just look at how easy it is to get ID info from a magnetic room key in any hotel.

  15. We shouldn’t have to subscribe to Anti-virus for phones. They SHOULD already be installed. It’s only common sense: your phone is a computer and computers are very vulnerable to attack in many different ways, even phones that might not use Windows.

  16. Well, it’s simple, get an iPhone. No worshiping here, just a working device 😉 I was laughing hard picturing some poor Windows phone user running Norton on his smart phone :)))

  17. As an after thought, after just buying a couple new phones and a new plan (My children are just entering their teens, this infromation, had recently been on my mind and while I was aware, my wife and kids were not. I cann’t help but feel that if cars were sold the way cell plans and tech gadgets are, no one would be buying them. Most people I know spend a good deal of time researching the ins-and-outs of particular car models and scrutinize every detail and fee on the invoice. Maybe if cell phone cost as much as cars did, but wait if your phone has been hacked, maybe it will cost you as much. Its too bad, a few hackers can ruin something nice.

  18. I loved the comment “I take the attitude that if someone wants to be my friend that much, they need to swing by the house so I can get to know them.” That’s been my mantra all along. Nothing beats a good cuppa joe and real conversation.

    As far as going back to regular cell phones to avaoid all the hassles of smart phones, what about going back to land-lines and making the roads safer too? Heck, America became one of the biggest and wealthiest nations using telegraphs, air-mail, parcel post and the pony express. If Grandpa could be that successful whats to stop me. If your business plan can fail because of a lost text or failure to make a last second cell call, then you need a better business plan.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love my tech gadgets, I just prefer to worship at church, not the Steve Jobs alter.

  19. I have used lookout on my lg but found it took up too much space and seemed to slow my phone down. If I ever get froyo on this phone I will most likely reinstall it.

  20. Can’t be bothered with these smart phones, especially the new Windows phones. There are enough risks of scams and stuff on your home PC, not up for carrying it around in my pocket too. Although if there are any smart phones that come with the same security technology as a home computer feel free to let me know.

    Thanks for the article though.

  21. I had this problem a year or two back. I checked my phone bill and there was a charge for like $40 applied. I checked back about 10 months and found that we were being charged this $40 for 10 months. We were using AT&T at the time. It took a while to have this charge removed and refunded. A big hassle. Now I changed carriers and keep an eye on my bill.
    People need to start checking all their bills for extra charges.

    Thanks for the great article.

  22. Good, chilling article, thanks. A lot there I was not aware of.
    As a precaution on my Nokia E75 i already use (free) NetQin which also has other useful features such as a firewall to block un-authorised access by … whomever. Just like a computer, it requests permission from you to allow each particular un-authorised request.
    I suppose NetQin would not exist if there was not a need so … why take chances?

    Txs for your great articles,
    Dorian

  23. I say make it against the law to text message in your vehicles while on the road or in traffic if you are behind the steering wheel. $400 fine should do nicely to stop people from doing it. Especially irresponsible kids.

  24. Well Steve, thanks for that information..I removed texting off my phone when I started getting stuff that I had no idea who and what it was about…the cost of trying to find out who and what it was about seemed useless…hope others pay attention to your great advice…

  25. Thanks for the heads up! I’m going to go look at my cell phone now. And now I know how to stop 1 annoying text that just keeps coming every month.

  26. Thanks, Shogan! Valuable information. I’ve blocked all text messages from my phone, so, hopefully, that will prevent any problems.

  27. Hello Kathy. Yes, I feel the same way. One of my cards was physically stolen. Fortunately they only purchased gas and some chips on their way to who knows where.

    EJ, it only takes a second and can save a bundle.

  28. Thanks Steve, just another avenue to steal our personal information and make our life more difficult. We have had our credit card violated it is not a pleasant phone call to receive that someone has tried to use your card for money and purchases.

    thank goodness for being old fashion, no texting, no personal info on our phones.

    Maybe if these people worked for a honest living they wouldn’t have to steal our info.

    Thanks again….

  29. The cell carriers have a lot of responsibility in this issue. Verizon themselves sends text messages that don’t readily identify the sender as Verizon. They also tend to take a hands-off approach when premium service scams arise, rather than being more proactive on the behalf of their customers.

    Texting itself is way overpriced – $.20 per text is a complete scam. These transmissions cost the carriers a minute fraction of that cost. Even when carriers charged $.05 per text, they were still making a lot of money.

    I’ve already placed LookOut Mobile Security on my Blackberry – it seems to be a good product, but I can’t say I’ve run into any malware yet that I’m aware of. The nice thing about the app is that it also performs regularly scheduled backups of your contact info and has a built-in ‘lost phone finder’ feature. They also send you weekly email updates as to the status of your security, backups, and whether the phone finder feature is ready or not. All free.

    Thanks for the reminder on blocking premium text services – I’m going to call VZW right now…

  30. you know, if everybody just went back to using regular cell phones without texting there would be:
    1. less worry about someone stealing your info.
    2. less worry about someone hitting you while driving because they are looking down instead of paying attention to driving. Which would lead to…
    3. less people dying on our roads because of bad drivers which would lead to…
    4. lower insurance rates because less people would be getting in accidents.

    and then there are the teenagers. all of the above apply to them but there would also be the added advantage of:
    1. lower cell phone bills.
    2. kids spending less time talking to their friends and more time doing homework and other important things.
    3. actually having to socialize with their family…OMG
    4. and less of things like omg and lol. they might actually have to use, omg, real words.

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