12/07/2011 02:11 EST | Updated 02/06/2012 05:12 EST

Cyber thieves will become more mobile in 2012 with scams to get your money, data

MONTREAL - Cybercrimes are becoming more mobile.

As more smartphones and tablets are being used, cyber thieves aren't just targeting personal computers to steal information for financial gain, say antivirus security experts.

"With the proliferation of mobile devices, that's just where the next threat landscape is going," Symantec's Lynn Hargrove said of what's expected in cyberspace in 2012.

"More people will have a mobile phone or a mobile device than a PC," she said.

Young men between the ages of 18 and 31 are targets because of the large amount of time they spend online every week, said Hargrove, director of consumer solutions for Symantec Inc.

Known as the "millennium males," they spend more than 49 hours online a week, she said.

"They're accessing the Internet everywhere," Hargrove said. "They're big on using free Wi-Fi."

Google's Android operating system, used in smartphones and tablets by manufacturers such as Samsung, HTC and Motorola, is vulnerable, experts say.

Mobile malware is on the rise, especially with the Android devices, said Doug Cooke, director of sales engineering at McAfee Canada.

Cooke warned against users downloading Android apps from third-party marketplaces, noting that malware writers will take an existing app and embed their own code in it and put it up for sale on these sites, which aren't monitored as carefully.

"There's much more likelihood for users in the Android world to use those third-party marketplaces and as a result they get these apps and start having troubles," Cooke said. "As usual, the malware writers are looking for ways to make money."

Symantec's Hargrove said consumers will need to make sure their mobile devices are secure now that they're being used for online shopping and banking as well as storing personal information.

"People don't understand that it's an extension of their computing platform."

David Craig of PwC Canada said he expects to see attacks on machines connected to the Internet