Cell phone security has at least one flaw: People

People have long been the weakest link when it comes to protecting computers. The same applies to mobile phones, a security expert says.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer
People have always been the weakest link when it comes to protecting computers. The same applies to mobile phones.

Despite companies' attempts to create relatively secure operating systems, trickery and social engineering continue to manipulate people.

For example, the Symbian operating system for mobile phones is "fairly secure," F-Secure security expert Patrik Runald said last week. Yet security is a problem.

"All the malware we've seen so far relies on the user installing it themselves, bypassing three to four security warnings. So there hasn't really been a flaw in the operating system," he said.

Runald acknowledges that some problems may be caused by unclear instructions on the user interface. But by and large, he said, security problems are caused by people ignoring warning signs.

There have been a few instances in which cybercriminals disguised files to make them look like interesting shareware or freeware, but mostly he blames user ignorance.

"They think it's about ringtones, games, wallpapers, videos--all good and fun things. But there are actually malicious things out there as well," Runald said.

For instance, Bluetooth users may find themselves asked: "Would you like to install this program now?" When they click "no," the question persists. Often they eventually end up choosing the other option out of frustration.

"That's the reason why people get infected: because they repeatedly click 'no' and obviously 'no' doesn't work and so they click 'yes' and they get infected," Runald said. When faced with this type of scenario, he advises people literally to "just walk away."

"Bluetooth has a very limited range," he noted. So walk away and "then go into your Bluetooth settings and disable Bluetooth completely or make it hidden for all other devices."

Liam Tung of ZDNet Australia reported from Sydney.

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