Spy phones: Is your cell phone being hacked?
Spy Phones Video by IdahoOnYourSide.comvideo
There are 320 million cell phones in the United States and half of them are smart phones. If you own one, you're at real risk. Thieves love to steal the spendy devices, but the real money is in hacking them.
Send a voice message, take a picture, and in no time at all, it's on the internet.
"This is the picture we took just a few minutes ago," said Dylan Evans of the Custer Agency.
He holds up a smart phone that was corrupted with malware that allows other people to monitor and even control everything the phone does.
"I would say 80 percent of malware is to get credit card numbers or personal information," he said.
And Evans should know, he helps clients who've been hacked, and says the biggest problem is a lack of awareness.
"Most people see them as fancy toys they don't understand that there's actually a threat out there." he said.
The threat can come from many directions. Just visiting some web sites can automatically download malware, and to get you to visit, scammers have gotten creative with these little guys.
You scan quick response, or QR, codes with your phone and they link it immediately with a website.
"This isn't an actual code. It's a sticker," said Evans. "Covering a real one up with a fake one is something no one is ever going to be able to determine. Just by going to that website someone could potentially compromise their phone."
Downloading apps is another risky activity according to Boise based Digavise.
"In the last couple years, malware has increased 50 percent each year. In 2011, Google removed 100 malicious apps and one was downloaded 250 thousand times," said Digavise CEO Brooke Linville.
So, to defend yourself, start thinking of your phone as a mini laptop. Use your passcode, especially if your kids like to download apps, so they have to ask you before downloading something potentially harmful. Download a malware blocker just like you do on your PC, and make sure to download all updates to your operating system.
"Don't be afraid of a smart phone," said Linville. "Don't be afraid of your credit card. Just make sure you've put in place the safety measures so you're protected."
Hacking is one thing, but theft of phones is also skyrocketing. It's important to have an app that allows you to erase your phone's memory remotely if it's ever stolen.