Smartphone safety: Your smartphone is a target for hackers in 2013

Phones are no safer than your laptop

SAN DIEGO - Smartphone attacks have doubled in the past year, and an expert says the trend will continue in 2013.

"This is now becoming a target of choice," said Murray Jennex, assistant professor of information security at San Diego State University.

Smartphones have become mobile wallets, and Jennex said they are getting as easy to hack as a desktop computer.

Jennex said Android and Windows phones have always been the primary target for hackers because those phones have an open network.

He said they let you download just about anything including fake applications that will steal your information.

"The viruses are a lot more effective on those systems," said Jennex.

But Jennex also said Apple products are ripe for thieves in 2013.

He said most Apple users know that Apple has a closed operating system and you can only download apps through the Apple store -- apps which are validated by the company.

"So they have this feeling that this is a safe phone," Jennex said.

Over the last three months, Jennex said researchers have proven that the iPhone can be attacked.

"What's been demonstrated is if you can get a virus into the Safari browser that will then tell the iPhone to send all the information stored on the phone to a set address," said Jennex.

Documents, information from any bank applications, or anything else saved on your phone would be sent to hackers.

"It will dump your passwords, it will dump your pictures, it will dump your phone log," said Jennex.

To prove a point Jennex emailed a virus, and the email with the virus was directed  to a link through Safari.

A few minutes after the link was clicked, the iPhone 3GS shut off.

No problems with the phone were ever detected before, and the battery was at 60 percent.

"It's possible something in there is attacking it and it's trying to protect itself," Jennex said.

Jennex wasn't sure what happened to the phone, and said to take it to the Apple store to find out. So the phone was taken to the Genius Bar.

A technician said there was no way to ever know what clicking on that link did. He did not think it was malware but he said it was possible clicking on the link could have shut off the phone.

Jennex said not knowing is scary too.

"Bottom line here, phones are no safer than your laptop," said Jennex.

Meanwhile, the iPhone has a security flaw with the pass code on its new iOS 6.1 operating system.

Thieves have a way to break through the lock and into the phone.

The person breaking in can listen to your voicemail, see your photos, and make calls from the iPhone.

Apple is aware of the pass code flaw, and will have a fix in the next software update.

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