Symantec mobile security warning for 2010 fans

Teams and fans from 32 nations are streaming into South Africa less than a week before football’s World Cup kicks off. At this time cybercriminals wait for the unwary, according to Symantec.

Symantec’s Candid Wüest said many soccer fans will be relying on their mobile devices for instant communication, news and to record their experiences. “Today’s smart phones are vulnerable to malicious activity such as phishing, scam websites and even drive-by downloads where malicious codes such as Trojans can infect the device,” he said.

To date, around 400 threats covering all mobile platforms have been identified and while this may appear miniscule when compared to the four million threatening PC platforms, the dangers to users are very real.

“Bizarrely,” said Wüest, “The biggest threat to fans is to lose their phone. All major phone brands that provide access to the Internet carry significant amounts of business and personal information, which, if the device is lost or stolen, can be accessed easily by criminals.”

While some phones do offer a degree of encryption protection, Wüest warned that this can be bypassed. “Fans should back up photographs and videos to a PC or an online storage facility like Google as soon as possible.”

WiFi hotspots are common in South Africa and Wüest believes users should ensure they are valid. “Try and verify that they are valid services or you could very well find your phone has been taken over by a criminal,” he added.

“Also, take care when using social networks like Twitter and Facebook as criminals often use them to ascertain when people will be away from home. It will certainly cast a damper on the experience if fans find their homes have been cleaned out while they are away enjoying 2010,” Wüest noted.

2010Netthreat.com, in conjunction with Symantec’s Wüest, has compiled a simple checklist, which fans can use to ensure their mobiles are protected against cybercrime: Never leave your phone unattended. Mobile phones are in high demand in South Africa and the risk of theft is very real and the consequences of data loss can be severe; Back up all data, i.e. photos and videos to a PC or other storage centre as soon as possible; Delete unsolicited or suspicious SMS’s immediately; When surfing the Internet stick to legitimate or familiar websites; Be very careful about personal information posted to social networks like Facebook and Twitter; Be very careful when using Bluetooth – invisible mode is advised; Use intelligent passwords, both for your mobile or any service you might log onto; Plan ahead – i.e. download any information you might need, such as maps, accommodation details before you leave home.

Sound simple? It is, but remember following these basic guidelines could be the key to a hassle-free visit to South Africa and the World Cup!

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