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Lack of awareness drives growth of malware attacks on smartphones

BARCELONA, Spain – Smartphones users haven’t realized yet the importance of protecting their mobile devices from hacker attacks, viruses and malware. In a video interview with RCR Wireless News, Gagan Singh, president for Avast’s mobile division, noted that despite a growth in attacks on smartphones, consumers continue to lack awareness to the threats.

The threat is seen as bigger across Latin America, with Singh noting the region is Avast’s fast growing market, with Brazil being the largest single market.

Prior to the recent Mobile World Congress event, Avast ran an experiment at the Barcelona Airport to demonstrate the security risk in using public Wi-Fi networks. In just four hours, Avast said it saw more than 8 million data packets from more than 2,000 users. To protect people’s privacy, Avast said the researchers scanned the data, but did not store any of the information.

Avast found 62% of the packets scanned included Google searches or people checking their emails on Google’s Gmail; 52% of users scanned had the Facebook application installed on their device; 2.4% had the Twitter app installed; and Avast was able to see the identity of 64% of users. The experiment revealed that thousands of trade show visitors threw caution to the wind when looking for a public Wi-Fi connection, risking the security of their devices.

Avast also reported users often forget to delete personal data when selling their mobile phones, letting new owners access email accounts, photos and text messages.

Editor’s note: Samsung has provided travel costs to Mobile World Congress.


Roberta Prescott
Roberta Prescott
Editor, [email protected] Roberta Prescott is responsible for Latin America reporting news and analysis, interviewing key stakeholders. Roberta has worked as an IT and telecommunication journalist since March 2005, when she started as a reporter with InformationWeek Brasil magazine and its website IT Web. In July 2006, Prescott was promoted to be the editor-in-chief, and, beyond the magazine and website, was in charge for all ICT products, such as IT events and CIO awards. In mid-2010, she was promoted to the position of executive editor, with responsibility for all the editorial products and content of IT Mídia. Prescott has worked as a journalist since 1998 and has three journalism prizes. In 2009, she won, along with InformationWeek Brasil team, the press prize 11th Prêmio Imprensa Embratel. In 2008, she won the 7th Unisys Journalism Prize and in 2006 was the editor-in-chief when InformationWeek Brasil won the 20th media award Prêmio Veículos de Comunicação. She graduated in Journalism by the Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Campinas, has done specialization in journalism at the Universidad de Navarra (Spain, 2003) and Master in Journalism at IICS – Universidad de Navarra (Brazil, 2010) and MBA – Executive Education at the Getulio Vargas Foundation.

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