You probably have some form of antivirus software on your PC or Mac, and have some awareness of the difficulties that you could face if your computer were infected by malware of some description, but do you think of your smartphone and tablet in the same way? Should you be concerned?
Research In Motion's (RIM) senior vice president for BlackBerry Security Scott Totzke thinks you should be, and poses a persuasive argument for why. Speaking with CNET Australia during the BlackBerry World conference in Orlando, Florida, this week, Totzke said he believes that mobile devices could be in more danger than most users might suspect, because of the commonality of WebKit browser frameworks across all of the major operating platforms.
"In the past, we've had a diversification of platforms. We've had Windows, Apple and various Unix variants, and attackers would focus on an OS," Totske explained. "What I see in the industry today is a consolidation around WebKit, so now we've got a common browser framework ... and this engine is large with complex code shared with multiple people, and it now gives an attacker a framework that goes across multiple platforms and goes from mobile to desktop.
"One of the trends that we're seeing is that an exploit of a browser on an iOS device may translate into a similar exploit on an Android device or a BlackBerry device or a desktop browser."
Do you have antivirus software installed on your phone?
Apps are also a major consideration for security experts, and the most widely known method for attackers to infect smartphones. Android smartphones seem to get the worst of app-related malware. Despite Google engaging its Bouncer software for detecting apps with malicious code at the submission phase of an app's release, there are regularly warnings issued with regards to malware-ridden apps on Google Play, including a recent app posing as the popular photo-sharing tool Instagram.
Troublingly, smartphone users infected by malicious apps will have glossed over many key warning signs on the path to infection. Dodgy devs may be able to spoof the name and icon of a popular app, but the company name is never the same as the Real McCoy. An app download is always preceded by a list of system functions that the app wishes to access, and will sound warning bells to vigilant smartphone users.
"If an application ... want[s] to have access to your address book, and what you just downloaded is a fitness application, it's worth determining whether you should say yes to that," said Totske.
So, should you treat your smartphone with the same care that you treat your PC? Given the volume of intimate information that most of us store on our phones, you could argue that protecting this data is even more important.
Leave us a comment below, and describe how you protect your phone — or why you choose not to.