Smartphone malware threats on the rise: report

A report from the computer security company McAfee finds that threats to your smartphone are on the rise and will reach a record high by the end of this year.

According to the report, you are 76 percent more likely to have a malicious software attack, known as malware, on an Android device.

Android devices are more prevalent, CNET.com senior editor Bridget Carey said on "The Early Show," and are therefore the most targeted smartphone platform.

Also, the Android is the easiest device to sneak bad apps into because Google is slower to catch them, Carey said. In other words, the bouncer to the Android club isn't as tough as the Apple bouncer, she said.

An attack or virus on an iPhone has not been detected yet, Carey added. When asked why, she said, "It's just not out there yet."

So what does the malware do?

In the background, without your knowledge, these apps are sending costly text messages, and you're being charged. Carey said you're giving the bad guys money from your texts without knowing it until you get the bill -- or you're calling costly 900 numbers.

So how can you spot a bad app?

"They might call it something similar to a popular app, but misspelled," Carey said. "Or it could be something generic, like app of pretty girl photos or some Justin Beiber wallpaper."

Carey suggested these ways to avoid acquiring Android malware:

1. Download only from the android app marketplace, also Amazon is a trusted store.

2. Read the reviews before downloading. If there's a problem, users tend to say so in the reviews.

3. Watch out for "secret Santa" holiday-themed mysterious links or holiday wallpaper apps. Holidays are biggest time to be fooled.

4. It won't hurt to buy a mobile malware protection app that can watch your back, like from Norton or McAfee.

How serious is the malware problem?

The sky isn't falling -- yet, Carey said. It's rare to stumble on one of these now, because most people stick to downloading popular apps. But it's good to stay sharp about this, because next year it's only going to increase.

And apps aren't the only way your phone can be attacked.

"Other ways people are fooled: You click on a strange link on your desktop, and you can tell the website is weird, or that you are on a phony bank site. But on your mobile phone? You can't tell! It already looks strange by being on a mobile screen," Carey said.

Bad guys can also get your cell number and send you text messages to make you panic, Carey added. The text will say, 'This is your bank account, your account has been closed and please reply with your Social Security Number in the next five minutes to verify this is you. Well guess what, you just weren't thinking and gave the bad guys your info."

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