You probably know something about the viruses that can attack your computer, but what about the viruses aimed at your mobile devices? You may be surprised to learn that malicious software aimed at mobile devices, otherwise known as mobile malware, is on the rise, yet two thirds of smartphone owners do not even realize their device can be infected.
The growing popularity of smartphones and tablets have attracted the attention of cybercriminals who see them as a great opportunity to get their hands on your information and money, or just do harm. With this in mind, they are now developing a number of threats designed to work on mobile platforms. In fact, McAfee has now recorded over 1,200 mobile malware variants.
Malware aimed at Android smartphones alone has grown 76% over the last few months, threatening Android security, as well as other platforms also under attack.
Many of the threats, such as clicking on a dangerous link in an email or in search results, are the same as you would encounter on your computer, but there are other threats that are unique to mobile devices.
For instance, you could accidentally download a malicious application that accesses your personal information and sends it to a cybercriminal. Or, you could download a dangerous app that dials premium-rate numbers from your phone, leaving you with expensive charges on your mobile bill. Other malicious programs can potentially alter your phone’s functionality, rendering it useless.
You may also receive text messages or voicemails from seemingly legitimate companies, asking for personal information.
If you encounter any of these mobile security threats, the risks are clear: you could lose your money, your identity, and your private information, and, if your device ceases to function, you could also lose all the data saved on it, including personal photos, contacts and emails. That is why it is important to take steps to protect yourself from mobile malware. Here are a few tips to ensure that your information and your device stay safe:
* Only download applications from a reputable app store, and read other users’ reviews before you download an app to make sure that it is safe
* Regularly review your mobile statements to check for any suspicious charges. If you do see charges you have not made, contact your service provider immediately.
* Only browse and download applications using a secure wireless network
* Never respond to text or voicemail with personal information. If you’re contacted by someone who says they are from your bank, or a major retailer or service provider, call them back directly on their legitimate phone number to verify their identity.
* When searching on the web, always double-check that the domain name of the site you’re visiting is legitimate
* Never click on a link in an email, social networking site or message from someone you do not know
* Use a product such as McAfee Mobile Security, which provides mobile antivirus and safe search protection, as well as giving you the ability to locate your phone in the case of loss, remotely lock and wipe the information you have stored on it, and restore your data.
Craig Hockley, Regional Director for South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa