The millions of apps available online have greatly expanded smartphones' capabilities—but at the price of security, cybercrime experts say. Google, Research in Motion, and Apple have all had to pull malicious or deceptive applications from their stores, but not before some had already been downloaded by scores of users, the Wall Street Journal reports. "It is becoming easier for the bad guys to use the app stores," says the CEO of a mobile phone security firm.
In one instance, Google was forced to pull a financial app that promised access to the world's banks for $1.50 but instead did nothing other than possibly exposing users to data theft. Many smartphone apps go beyond simple scams, though: some upload user information, including bank account data, to the developer's servers. The Air Force has already barred all personnel from downloading apps on their BlackBerrys, after a rash of incidents that could have exposed service members to spying.
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