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Mobile phones lucrative source of data for cyber criminals: Experts

11 August 2014

If you thought only web sites and other stuff online was vulnerable to hack attacks, you are dead wrong. Beware! Cyber criminals have designs for the information stored in your smart phones too.

For cyber criminals, smart phones procured through exchanges, such as getting a new smart phone in exchange for an old one are a particularly lucrative source of data related to finances and passwords, according to Sandeep Sengupta, co-founder and director of the Indian School of Ethical Hacking.

The volume of data one uses on one's phones these days was huge and because of accessibility to internet services such as phone banking and e-shopping, data about one's debit and credit cards, passwords, photographs and videos, everything was available to hackers, he said, IANS reported.

Even if one deleted the data from internal storage or external memory, cyber criminals could retrieve it. Mobile phones were the next big targets for hackers, whether it was an old model or new mobile phone exchanges could lead to disaster.

Sengupta was speaking at the ICT 2014, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry in Kolkata. He said the best precaution one could take was to over-write the data instead of deleting.

Further, he said: ''We have noticed that web sites like that of the State Bank of India, Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur, and Jadavpur University are not well protected against hackers. In such a case, anyone can wreak havoc with the web site with the consumer being affected the most.''

He said while several such organisations had been warned, many had chosen to ignore alerts by ethical hackers, The Hindu reported. He said, even web sites of top companies like Apple Inc, Microsoft, and Harvard University had been hacked between 2010 and 2013.

''India has been identified as the fifth most cyber crime-affected country. At a time when we are largely dependent on our mobile phones, we need to be aware of the ways we can be targeted through our mobile phones and take appropriate action.''

India, he added, had in recent times seen a flourish of e-retail web sites, which was fast emerging as a path to snoop into people's accounts. If an e-retail website was not well protected, it was very easy to enter the site and tweak the price of an item and proceed to buy it, Sengupta said.

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