Worms, spam, viruses and hackers — they’re not just for your desktop or laptop anymore. According to internet security experts they could be well on their way into your pocket or purse.
The popularity of smartphones — like the Blackberry, iPhone, Palm and the emerging Droid — is on the rise and shows no signs of letting up.
And that’s making the phones a sweeter target for online ne’er do-wells looking to, at the very least, cause mischief and, at worst, rip off unsuspecting phone owners.
“It’s guaranteed that almost everything we see on a computer will show up on a smartphone — and some new things,” said Jake Widman, a San Francisco-based technology writer and analyst.
Last year, more than 139 million smartphones were sold worldwide, a 13.9 percent increase from 2007, according to the British technology analysis firm Gartner.
With Apple planning to release the iPhone in China, and a more affordable Android handset expected to hit the market by the end of the year, the pool of potential targets is only expected to get deeper.
And compared to even a year ago, when analysts say most people used smartphones mostly for voice calls and e-mail, an increasing number of users are now surfing the Web, paying bills and doing other activities that open them up to abuses.
“When the market increases, there are generally more people going after it because there’s a bigger potential for gain,” said Andrew Storms, who directs safety efforts at online security companynCircle.
Security companies already have seen several threats hitting smartphones. In most cases, they say, they’re targeted at individuals rather than the millions of desktop or laptop users that a typical e-mail attack can impact.