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CES: Plugging a Mobile Security Leak

Kelli B. Grant

Senior consumer reporter and “Deal of Day” columnist Kelli B. Grant travels to Las Vegas to find the best, the worst, and the most hyped gadgets at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Join her as she roams the exhibit floor for three days, with dispatches here and on Twitter @kellibgrant.

As consumers use their smartphones for a wider range of activities — including shopping and banking — it’s natural to wonder if such activities are really safe. The scary answer: maybe not.

Experts say hackers are increasingly targeting cellphones, in a variety of ways, to get at the often-vital information stored there. The latest versions of security programs from NQ Mobile claim to protect against a variety of problems. It automatically scans for malicious apps when users are accessing a financial institution via their phone, and also checks for spyware from third-parties that could be eavesdropping on conversations.

Another “freemium” offering, users can take advantage of most protections for free. The rest can be purchased at a price of $6 for a six-month subscription, a spokesman says. But it’s worth assessing what your phone or tablet really needs before signing up, says Todd Day, an industry analyst for Frost & Sullivan. Anti-malware protection is more important on Android than iOS because of the open nature of the platform that allows developers (and hackers) more leeway, he says. The NQ Mobile spokesman says their Apple versions focus more on phishing alerts and other scams, rather than malware.

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About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to quentin.fottrell@dowjones.com or tweet @SMPayDirt.

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