The proliferation of mobile devices has created the perfect storm for cyberattacks, industry experts say.
Karim Toubba, a vice president at Juniper Networks, an Internet systems company, says smart phones and tablets perform the same functions as a PC but lack one critical feature, namely security.
"Whereas most PCs come equipped with antivirus and other endpoint security software," he says, "the vast majority of mobile devices lack that security protection."
Most mobile attacks, he says, occur when software applications are being downloaded to the device, "which leaves both consumers and their personal data at risk."
So, what is a smart-phone user to do to avoid being hacked?
First, be suspicious of unknown links or requests sent via e-mail or text message, says Robert Siciliano, an identity theft expert with McAfee.
"Do not click on unknown links or answer strange questions sent to your mobile device, regardless of who the sender appears to be," he says via e-mail. Users should download only trusted applications, and only from trusted sources or marketplaces that have positive reviews and feedback.
Mr. Siciliano wants mobile-phone users to understand that the same rules apply in the new, quicksilver world of mobile applications.
"Be vigilant about online security. Keep antivirus and malware software up to date, use varying passwords, and never provide your personal or financial information without knowing who is asking and why they need it," he says.