Monday, November 7, 2011

Telecom Fraud from Smartphone malware apps

About 2 weeks ago I wrote about a phony NetFlicks app for the Android, today the BBC has an article titled Smartphone scams: Owners warned over malware apps which talks about how these apps are made and how they can be used to commit phone fraud.

Criminals are typically creating Trojan copies of reputable apps and tricking users into installing them.
Once on the phone, the app can secretly generate cash for criminals through premium rate text messages. 
Get Safe Online, a joint initiative between the government, police and industry, said it was concerned that users of smartphones, such as Android devices, were not taking steps to protect their devices.
Get Safe Online said fraudsters are designing apps which generate cash secretly in the background without the owner realising until their monthly bill.A typical scam involves an app designed to send texts to premium rate services without the user knowing. 

As with all telecom fraud the solution is a combination of setting the right controls and proactive monitoring.

To prevent a large, unexpected phone bill you should:

  • Confirm that the app you are installing is certified and is from the company that it claims to be from.
  • Install a malware protection app just like you have anti-virus on your laptop - and make sure it updates regularly. I wrote about some of these in the Netflix post.  
  • Pay attention to performance. If your  battery seem to be running out too fast, if apps (and games)are running slowly, if calls or web sites take longer to connect you could have a malware app running on your system. If you do not have any protection install one and run a full system check.
  • Occasionally look at your call and SMS (Text) logs to see if you have items that you did not make.
  • Actually review your phone bill, you usually only have a month to challenge mistakes or fraud so this is your last line of defense.