Users Threaten Mobile Phone Security; Not Malware

By Liam Tung, ZDNet Australia URL:

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Users are the weakest link when it comes to protecting information systems because of social engineering, which relies on the manipulation of people rather than machines.

The same trickery is being used against mobile phone users--despite attempts by companies such as Nokia to create relatively secure operating systems such as the market leader, Symbian.

F-Secure security expert, Patrik Runald, said in an interview with ZDNet Asia's sister site, ZDNet Australia, last week that the Symbian operating system is "fairly secure".

"All the malware we've seen so far relies on the user installing it themselves, bypassing three to four security warnings, so there hasn't really been a flaw in the operating system," he said.

Runald admits some problems may be caused by unclear instructions on the user-interface (UI) but, by and large, it is caused by users ignoring warning signs.

Runald said that there have been a few cases where cyber criminals have disguised files to make them look like an interesting shareware or freeware, but mostly he blames user ignorance.

"They think it's about ringtones, games, wallpapers, videos; all good and fun things but there are actually malicious things out there as well," said Runald.

Threat from Bluetooth

Bluetooth users may find themselves asked the question "Would you like to install this program now?" When they click "no", the question persists. Often immediately until they choose the other option out of frustration. "That's the reason why people get infected: because they repeatedly click no and obviously 'no' doesn't work and so they click 'yes' and they get infected," said Runald.

When faced with this, Runald advises users to "Just walk away".

"Bluetooth has a very limited range -- it's about 15 to 20 meters. Then go into your Bluetooth settings and disable Bluetooth completely or make it hidden for all other devices," he added.

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Liam Tung, ZDNet
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