What do you look for when you buy a new smartphone? Screen size? Camera quality? Sleek design?
Well, it's likely that you're going to start paying a lot more attention to phones' security features, because the threats to smartphones -- from lone hackers to spying governments -- are only growing, and the damage can be catastrophic for a user. It only takes one hacker or virus getting into your smartphone to steal your passwords, banking or credit card details or other sensitive data.
All of this means that the phone maker -- whether it's Apple (AAPL) , Samsung (SSNLF) or another company -- that best educates consumers about security and builds the most secure phones could get a leg up on the competition. Thus, investors in these stocks should pay close attention to security issues.
Don't think there are serious threats to your phone's security? Apple just last week issued a patch that fixes a very worrisome flaw. It came to light after a well-known dissident in the United Arab Emirates found a text message on his phone inviting him to click on a link. He alerted researchers, who determined that the link would have allowed software to remotely control his iPhone. Reuters reported that this is the first known case of software that can do this to an up-to-date iPhone 6.
According to a recent report by mobile cybersecurity company Mobileiron, the following mobile attacks either emerged or worsened in the last six months:
- Android GMBot: Spyware that remotely controls infected devices and attempts to fool victims into providing bank credentials.
- AceDeceiver: This malware is designed to steal a person's Apple ID.
- SideStepper iOS "vulnerability": This technique intercepts and manipulate traffic between an MDM server and a managed device.
- High-severity OpenSSL issues: These flaws can affect large numbers of applications and services.
- Marcher Android: This malware attempts to trick users into entering bank account login information.
Smartphone users rely on Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google and Apple to provide the necessary security to protect them against threats like this. Apple and Google each released three updates so far this this quarter. Nevertheless, Android users can run into problems if they don't download an app from the Google Play store, and iPhone users who "jailbreak" (i.e., remove their security restrictions on) their phones run the risk of malware when they download an app from outside the App Store.
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