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Inexpensive Smart Phones Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks

BY Lisa Goldman | Wednesday, October 31 2012

Image from the Mozilla blog

Low cost smartphone has become something of a buzzword in the handset world this year. Androids are are already selling for $150, with China set to release a clone for domestic use that is priced at $50. Meanwhile, Mozilla has announced the 2013 launched of an open source Firefox phone that will sell for $100.

Currently, about 75 percent of the world population owns a mobile phone, with smartphones making up only 12 percent. Amongst the poor in the developing world, or emerging markets, a low cost handset without Internet access is the most common, but with the exponential growth of low cost handsets this situation is going to change. Cisco reports that smartphone use tripled in 2011, while Mashable posits that smartphones are growing faster than any technology in history.

TechPresident has reported extensively on how mobile phones are changing society, from expediting urbanization to information gathering to political engagement.

But there is a downside to the proliferation of low cost smartphones. According to a recent report by CNN, they are vulnerable to malware attacks because they lack some security features that are found in higher cost handsets.

This past March security researchers at the Black Hat Europe event found that Android was still the mobile platform on which malware has thrived most. While both Apple ... and Google both charge app developers a fee to create apps, researchers have argued that the Android fee of just $25 — compared to the $99 for iOS — makes it a low-cost option for hackers as well.

With the number of smartphones projected to increase from 4.5 million to 311.0 by 2016, there will be a lot of opportunity for malicious hackers.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network for its generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

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