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    Mobile technology is mainstream now. Just as radio, television and desktop computers have become integral parts of the normal household, mobile devices such as cellphones, MP3 players and laptops have also become essential tools in our day-to-day functions.

    Today, the capabilities of these devices are increasingly becoming so advanced that they can even tell where you are and what you want. “Experts call it an explosion of technology… so cool, it’s borderline creepy,” says CNN reporter Susan Candiotti in a report about the latest technology in mobile computing that some advertisers will soon be employing. It’s called Location-Based Services (LBS) and it has been reported to be officially released this summer. This latest development in mobile phone computing makes use of GPS or Wi-Fi technology and lets advertisers track down a user’s location to send relevant information, such as ads and promos, based on the user’s whereabouts and the personal information that the service provider has for that customer.

    Cool versus creepy, convenient versus annoying, the real issue has more to do with the technology’s inherent risks. We see it all the time–cybercriminals exploiting latest technologies to spread malicious code and gain profit. For these hackers, LBS is a whole new malicious code vector worth exploring. Before signing up for this type of service, users should educate themselves with the following undesirable possibilities:

    • SMS/MMS Spam
      Remember the time you signed up for something online and suddenly you get all these spam messages that are not related to what you signed up for? The same could happen with this technology. Even without this service, mobile users in China and Korea have already been having serious SMS spamming problems for years.
    • Phishing/Vishing
      Although not as massive as SMS spam, we still have seen quite a significant increase in vishing attacks last year. With the amount of personal information available for the taking, cybercriminals can take advantage of this new service to start vishing attacks against mobile users.
    • Malware
      One feature of this service is that it can run on Java technology, which allows the download and installation of new applications to a mobile device. By experience, Java-based applications are easily exploitable as seen in the many malicious JavaScript codes that proliferated last year. If an LBS application is found to be vulnerable, chances are, cybercriminals will exploit this vulnerability.

    Location-Based Services is a promising technology, no doubt. It can be very useful and beneficial to both users and businesses if proper safety and anti-abuse measures are enforced by the service providers. Service providers that manage all the customer information should ensure, not just the convenience, but also the security and privacy of the users who avail of the service. Users, on the other hand, should check with their service provider to see what kind of protection is offered by their company before opting-in to the service.

    Trend Micro customers are protected from mobile threats such as SMS spam, malware, and spyware through Trend Micro Mobile Security.

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