Collectively, viruses, Trojan horses, and worms are called malware. There are 55,000 unique ones that are released over the Internet daily. That's almost one per second.
They've attacked networks and PCs. There's a constant fear they could bring down the power grid and mass transit. But the new target is the mobile device as it becomes a payment device with a simple swipe. The bad guys can then tap into your bank account.
"Whenever it reaches proximity to another mobile device, that's been infected, imagine if you end up doing a financial transaction, so essentially you're giving someone your money away just by being close to them," said McAfee's network security senior vice president Pat Calhoun.
McAfee, the Internet security company, is forecasting 2013 will see a big increase in mobile device attacks. Some will be crossovers from PCs where access to your photos and data will be held for ransom.
"Pictures, documents, everything gets encrypted. And then you receive a nice little email that basically tells you for $79.95, you can get that data unencrypted, essentially holding your data for ransom. We have begun to see that occur on mobile devices," said Calhoun.
McAfee expects that malware will soon target smartphones that transfer video and photos by holding them together. A virus could be transferred too -- an attack already given the name "bump and infect".
"We know that that's coming. It's just a question of time. We think that in 2013, we'll be seeing that," said Calhoun.
Security experts urge consumers to monitor their bank accounts and other personal data. Consider using anti-virus software. Banks and even wireless carriers are on the alert as well, trying to filter malware before it reaches mobile devices.
The targets for malware often are highly visible, but more and more, the bad guys are going after the little device, the ones that you and I carry.