s smartphone viruses creep closer to U.S. shores, malicious programmers behind them have become more ingenious, according to a report issued Tuesday by computer security firm McAfee. Predictably, it’s all about the money — that is, hackers are learning how to turn your smartphone into cash for them.
One year ago, state-of-the-art smartphone viruses tricked the gadgets into dialing pricey international phone numbers or sending premium texts routed through accounts controlled by hackers, not unlike old-fashioned 1-900 toll call scams. But a new crop of sophisticated mobile phone viruses are worming their way into consumers’ handset software and enabling criminals to send themselves cash directly without a phone ever leaving your pocket.
“The type of threat is really evolving,” said Adam Wosotowsky, a threat researcher for McAfee Labs who helped prepare the McAfee Threats Report. For example, a new crop of mobile viruses intercept two-factor authentication codes sent as text messages by banks, cracking a system that has long been considered safe. Some phone viruses are smart enough to collect passwords and launch mobile bank apps, the report says.
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