Computer viruses are old news at this point, but mobile malware is a new and growing problem for smartphone owners.
It's not surprising really. Most viruses target virtual files and digital information. A smartphone is essentially a small computer, so it can easily be targeted by the same malware that can bring down a desktop or laptop.
The problem now is that people carry so much information on their smartphones. And some of the more sensitive data is being targeted.
One of the biggest targets of malicious hacking attacks on smartphones is banking information, according to a study by McAfee.
The security firm's latest threat reports indicated that there are many more malware issues for smartphones than there have been in the past. But not all of them require a download.
In many cases, hackers "phish" for financial account information by directing smartphone users to malicious websites. Because of the small screen size, it's easier for them to set up phony websites for banks and other financial accounts.
From there, they can get users to enter account numbers, passwords, and answers to various security questions. That information is all they need.
It's a nasty scam, but the good news is that it's relatively easy to avoid. Just make sure to:
Many scams take advantage of consumers who respond immediately to emails that ask you to provide log-in information. Rather than going directly to the bank's website, they click the link in the email which takes them to a different site.
But savvy hackers can disguise the bogus website and make it look like the real thing. By the time the victim realizes the problem, the hacker may have already gotten enough information.
Don't forget that your smartphone is still really a computer and is vulnerable to attack. Be smart when using it and you'll avoid problems with identity theft.