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    USA Today: Poison text messages and malicious mobile apps on the rise

    USA Today reports on concerns about the privacy and security of data on cellphones and other mobile devices:

    Nearly one in five mobile phone users have experienced some type of security threat with their device. That’s the finding of a Cloudmark survey of 1,000 cellphone users, scheduled to be released Tuesday.

    Poison text messages, nearly non-existent in the U.S. a few years ago, grew 300% in 2010 and 400% in 2011, accounting for about 1% of all text messages. “We’ve gone from totally clean to a trickle,” says Rachel Kinoshito, head of Cloudmark’s security operations. “Most people are seeing about one a month.”

    That foothold is part of a broader concern. Variations of scams that infest the Internet, through PC browsers, have begun spreading on a meaningful scale through mobile devices. And it looks like the bad guys are just getting warmed up. […]

    Meanwhile, hackers are repurposing skills honed in the PC world to attacks on specific mobile devices. Particularly, handsets using Google’s Android operating system are frequently the target of hackers. In December, anti-virus company F-Secure tracked down 1,639 unique malicious Android apps — disguised as free apps and circulating on websites across the Internet. That’s up from 48 in January 2011. […]

    Network security company Juniper Networks says the pool of bad apps it has been tracking swelled 86% in February from January. Nearly half of the poisoned Android apps analyzed by Juniper were classic spyware, says Dan Hoffman, head of Juniper’s mobile security business.

    “We’ve identified malware that can steal credentials from e-mail and mobile banking applications,” Hoffman says. “These attacks can be devastating.”

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