They’re Back! New Dialer Scams Target Smartphones

LOS ANGELES—Despite the advance of technology and the development of exciting new business models, some things never change, and that’s doubly true for scams. Indeed, many old ones have found new life in new technologies. Case in point: the dialer scams of several years ago.

“Dialers would infect individuals' computers, disconnect their modem, and then force it to dial a long distance number, typically an international call,” reports Daily Tech. “The virus would often mute the modem speaker so the victim would be none-the-wiser. Milking the economics of international calls, the crooks would pocket a substantial amount for each call, while victims would be left with massive phone bills.”

Fast forward to 2010, when Software firm CA noticed a rise in dialer attacks targeting smartphones.

“In our malware analysis lab we have been observing an increasing trend of Trojan Dialers that targets mobile devices and this advisory blog is a quick analysis of one such malware that uses the J2ME technology (a default standard for CLDC devices) to send SMS messages to high cost numbers,” wrote CA research engineer Dinesh Venkatesan in a blog post. “Similar to its ancestors, most of them are related to pornographic message centers.”

According to Network World, “Future smartphones will come pre-loaded with anti-virus software clients to prevent the loss of data and services to malware.”

The site also quotes Mikko Hypponen, head of research for mobile-security developer F-Secure, who said he has seen a handful of dialers in recent months. Current scammers are using these techniques,” he told the BBC, “because "they get round one of the big problems facing anyone wanting to make money out of Windows viruses.

"PC malware can't just directly steal money from your machine," he said. “It has to jump through hoops like keylogging your credit card number or sending spam. However, mobile malware can just instantly steal from you by making premium-rate calls or messages.”