Businesses' use of consumer-focused devices has made it 10 times easier for criminals to monetise their cyber scams, according to security firm AVG.
AVG chief technology officer (CTO) Yuval Ben-Itzhak made the claim during a press session attended by V3, arguing that businesses' use of devices, such as the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S4, has made 2013 a golden year for cyber crime.
He highlighted the threat of Trojan and malware-laden applications targeting open ecosystems, such as Google Android, as a particularly pressing concern.
"One of the most exciting things about mobile devices is of course the apps. We have on the AVG user base, 44 million active users and on average people download about 60 different apps to their device. For the hackers this environment is heaven," he said.
Ben-Itzhak added that a lack of robust mobile security has made it 10 times easier for the criminals to make money from their schemes.
"In the days of PC they'd compromise your computer and steal your credit card. People thought it was easy for the hacker to monetise it, but it's not. They couldn't use it personally or directly, they had to use a third party, or a 'money mule'," he said.
"In the mobile environment it's 10 times easier. On your mobile device you have your credit card with your network operator. One of the top monetisation techniques being used by hackers is mobile apps. These apps make the phone send SMS messages to premium-rate numbers, letting them automatically collect money."
He added that the problem will only grow as criminals develop new ways to target the multitude of different information technologies in smart devices.
"You probably remember connecting your PC to the internet and being worried about all the threats coming to this individual information channel. But now, when I look at the average smartphone, there are seven pieces of information technology, the text message, WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC [near field communication], etcetera," he said.
"Even the power when you charge your mobile device can be used to compromise it. It's not just connecting to the internet that makes a difference, each and every one of these communication technologies opens a door for bad guys to come in."
The AVG chief is one of many security experts to warn about the growing mobile threat facing businesses. Most recently competing vendor McAfee reported seeing a marked increase in ransomware and banking-focused mobile malware targeting businesses.