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Increasing Smartphone Usage Leads To New Scams

NEW YORK – Smartphones are now an integral part of the concert-going experience, but this is opening up attendees to new scams and security concerns, according to a study by Symantec.

The report was commissioned as part of Symantec’s ongoing consumer education program that preaches the need for security on mobile devices, said Marian Merritt, Norton Internet safety advocate.

More security is needed as people put more sensitive information on small, losable devices, she said.

The “Modern Fan” survey found that 77 percent of attendees said it is very important to have their smartphone with them at the show, and 92 percent of those said they were more likely to bring their phone than even cash ID, debit or credit cards. The phones are used for a variety of tasks, including capturing the moment, accessing social media, holding show tickets and purchasing items, which leaves the owners open to security issues, Merritt said.

These activities also leave the owners open to such security risks and scams as digital ticket scalping and downloading infected apps at the show.

About 20 percent of show attendees said they bought fraudulent tickets online via their phone or purchased a ticket that did not deliver all the access that was promised on the site from which it was purchased. Most of these fraudulent tickets, 58 percent, were purchased online prior to the event, while only 49 percent of the tickets bought outside the gate had similar issues, the report stated.

Apps designed for a specific event are also causing problems, Merritt said. Sixty-six percent said they had downloaded a concert app and it did enhance the experience, but 25 percent of those people reported getting spammed via the app after the show.

Simply losing or having a phone stolen is a huge problem. In addition, many people do not even take simple precautions to protect their data, according to the report.

The report found that 31 percent of fans did not password protect their phone, and another 35 percent have lost the phone or had it stolen.

Many of these problems could be avoided, or the data on the phone protected, with some basic security software, Merritt said, but 40 percent of smartphone owners do not even know such software is available.

This will become more problematical in the future as cyber criminals focus more heavily on mobile device. Such criminal activity is rising dramatically, Merritt said, and Symantec hopes to help consumers get ahead of the danger through its education efforts.