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    USA Today: Hackers prey on smartphone use at work during holidays

    USA Today reports on privacy and security risks connected with the use of personal cellphones for both work and personal activities:

    More people than ever are using their personally owned smartphones as an essential work tool. And now an unprecedented number of them are using their smartphones to hunt for bargains and buy gifts.

    This development has created a new tier of risk for corporate networks, says John Pironti, an adviser with ISACA, a global IT professionals association. “Cybercriminals are actively trying to leverage mobile devices as part of their attacks,” he says. “The holiday season provides them a perfect time to test out new attacks.”

    Roughly 50% of mobile device users are likely to use their smartphonea or touchscreen tablet computera to shop this year, up from 22% in 2010, according to a recent survey of 1,215 mobile device users conducted by Webroot. […]

    Employees have begun using their smartphones to download coupons and price-comparison apps and to make online purchases. That puts consumers and their companies at elevated risks, say technologists and security experts. […]

    Smartphone attacks are in their infancy compared with PC hacks. They mostly come in the form of malicious apps for games, music and ringtones that phone users get enticed to download, says Armando Orozco, mobile threats analyst at Webroot.

    “When installed, these apps gain control of your device to transmit your personal information, control search results and send text messages to premium numbers,” Orozco says. […]

    A bad guy in control of an employee’s smartphone could steal any sensitive messages and attachments stored on the phone. Or he could create and send viral e-mails throughout the corporate network, via messages that appear to come from the phone’s owner.

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