Marketers and app developers aren’t the only ones realizing the potential of smartphones and tablets–which is exactly why so much malware is popping up. As McAfee predicts malware threats will grow and become even more serious, we thought it appropriate to cover this topic so you can better prepare yourself:
What is malware?
The term malware is short for malicious software; they come in viruses, worms and Trojan horses. Malware is notorious for disrupting computer operations, gathering sensitive information and gaining unauthorized access to systems. And it only becomes more disruptive in this uber-connected cyber age. Mobile malware can be designed to disable your phone, remotely control it or even steal information from it.
Malware attacks are up
Malware attacks are growing at the fastest pace in four years. Nearly 18,000 kinds of malware have been found that specifically target mobile devices by the end of 2012, up from 3,000 in January 2012.
With the increased use of Google’s android operating system, the majority of attacks are targeting androids and showing no signs of slowing down. Android is the leading smartphone platform and allows you to purchase apps from third parties, making the device an easy target. But don’t think that challenge-loving cyber-criminals aren’t after your iPhone too; all mobile devices are at some risk.
Top mobile malware threats
A recent study by Nominum, a company providing integrated subscriber experience, network and security solutions, found the top threats in mobile malware this year – not surprisingly, all targeted at Androids:
Noncompatible: This trojan affects Androids through a web browser and makes the phone work as a proxy.
SMSpacem: SMSpacem changes wallpaper and sends SMS to all contacts.
Lena: Uses exploits to gain root access to your device. Once it’s installed, it communicates with a command site and downloads files without user permission.
Netisend: This malware steals your information.
Basebridge: Once installed, Basebridge disables installed AV software, downloads additional malware components and open a backdoor with its command site.
Protect yourself against malware
Your mobile device is not inherently secure. You’re probably already using a firewall on your laptop or desktop computers. It’s definitely time to start thinking about protecting your mobile devices as well. Here are some tips:
If you’re downloading apps, check reviews and look into the developer; if you’ve never heard of them and can’t find good info, avoid the app.
If you want it, don’t try to get around paying for it. If it’s free and wants to collect phone calls, location and contact data, be wary. In fact, you should deselect the “unknown source” option in your application settings.
Pay attention to what permissions the app is asking for, does it really need access to your contacts?
Before you access sensitive information from your mobile device, you need to be aware of the threats that exist. If you haven’t taken measures to protect it, it’s not necessarily safe. Treat your mobile device like you would your computer and be aware of malware.
This threat is not going anywhere. As mobile devices are used more and more and the mobile ad market matures, mobile malware threats will only increase. Don’t wait for an attack, protect yourself now.