Scottish business bosses warned over smartphone hack threat

Smartphone hacking now poses the biggest cyber security threat to business with SMS-based attacks and '˜evesdropping' of data and calls among the key risks, business leaders in Scotland have been warned.

People using their smartphone for work tasks are increasing cyber security risks for business, it has been claimed PIC Dan Phillips
People using their smartphone for work tasks are increasing cyber security risks for business, it has been claimed PIC Dan Phillips

Around 65 per cent of businesses operating around the world recorded a rise in mobile threats during 2015, The Global Security & Cyber Security Summit in Aberdeen heard yesterday.

Odd Helge Rosberg, chief technology officer at Rosberg System SA, said businesses were left wide open to attack if they failed to protect information being transmitted via handheld devices.

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He said the risk had been exacerbated by employees using their own smartphones for work tasks, commonly known as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), Mr Rosberg said.

Mr Rosberg, said: “Businesses need to be aware that until they address the issue of smartphone security, they’re effectively leaving the doors and windows to their network wide open for cyber criminals to access.

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“The growing power of smartphones means they are now being used for almost all work tasks formerly conducted on secure networked devices, from browsing online to sending emails, online banking and making payments, he added.

The Norwegian-based expert said GPS and data enabled smartphones were particularly vulnerable to the invasive surveillance technology called fake cell towers - or IMSI Catchers – which intercept mobile phone traffic, listen to phone calls and collect and read text messages.

He described the growing risk of ‘silent SMS attacks’ which send a text to a mobile device without it ever becoming apparent to the recipient.

Once automatically downloaded, cyber criminals can then access personal information from the breached handset.

A further threat is a third party taking remote control of a phone’s camera or microphone to record video and conversations taking place.

Mr Rosberg has developed the VERJI SMC device, which he described as the world’s first smartphone encryption tool.

It is being distributed in the UK by Glasgow-based firm The Security Circle.

Chief Executive Scott Simpson, chief executive of The Security Circle, said: “Finally, business and individuals have a scalable, easy to use, hardware agnostic smartphone security solution which will protect their messages, calls and data from hackers and cyber criminals.”

Detective Superintendent Willie Cravens, Head of Police Scotland’s Cybercrime Unit said people were now “far more likely” to be a victim of crime on line that in the “real world”.

He added: “We have seen no reported increase in attacks specifically relating to smartphones but we are aware that cyber-criminals consistently develop new ways to overcome the security of devices. Handset security is often neglected by users and cyber-criminals will undoubtedly be targeting these devices to obtain personal data for criminal purposes.”