Safely search, browse on your mobile device

It’s hard to beat the convenience of being able to quickly look up information on your phone or tablet, such as the nearest restaurant, movie show times, and the latest news and events. But, browsing and searching on your phone can be just as dangerous as it is on your computer.

Craig Hockley, McAfee Regional Director for South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. (Image: McAfee)

Viruses and malware aimed at mobile devices are on the rise, and you could quickly run into them by clicking on a dangerous link in search results, or visiting a malicious website on your phone or tablet. What’s more, phishing attacks have become quite common on mobile devices, and are proving to be quite effective.

Phishing is when a cybercriminal tries to trick you into revealing personal information or taking an action you wouldn’t otherwise by pretending to be a legitimate person or entity. For instance, you could come across an online banking site that looks just like your bank’s real website and enter your login credentials, not knowing that you are sending them to a cybercriminal.

Mobile users are probably more likely to fall for these tricks because of the limited screen space on their devices that keep them from seeing a site’s full web address, or an email sender’s full return address. Without being able to see a full address, it’s difficult to tell if the website or sender is legitimate.

If you do click on a dangerous search result or stumble upon a malicious webpage, you could wind up accidentally downloading malware onto your phone, or simply run into inappropriate content.

Once you are infected with mobile malware, it could send the information saved on your phone to cybercriminals, or keep your phone from working properly. If you download a malicious application from a rogue website, it can even make premium rate phone calls and send texts from your phone without your knowledge, leaving you with an expensive bill. (If you do get infected, you may have to wipe your phone, or restore it to its original settings, so make sure that you backup all of your data so you can reinstall it if necessary.)

Given the risks, it’s important that you follow these safety tips when surfing and browsing from your mobile device:

• To protect your phone, use a product such as McAfee Mobile Security, which offers mobile antivirus protection, safe search, backup and restore functions, and the ability to locate your phone and wipe personal information in the case of loss

• Always take the time to double-check a website’s address and make sure that it appears legitimate by looking at the domain name to see if there are any misspellings and added numbers or letters, or has a suspicious suffix, such as .exe

• If you have an Android device, consider using a safe search tool such as McAfee SiteAdvisor software for Android, which is available with McAfee Mobile Security

• If you land on a site that contains poor grammar, misspellings, and low-resolution pictures be very suspicious

• Be wary of any retail site with deeply discounted prices, and always check other users’ comments and reviews before purchasing online

• Rather than doing a search for your bank’s website, type in the correct address to avoid running into any phony sites, or use your bank’s official app

•  Monitor your monthly bills to make sure there are no suspicious charges

• Consider using a product such as McAfee Safe Eyes Mobile software to keep your child from accessing inappropriate content on their phone. McAfee Safe Eyes Mobile also offers iPhone and iPad security apps through Apple’s app store.

To maintain mobile security on your smartphone make sure you take precautions to keep your information and device safe.

Craig Hockley, McAfee  Regional Director for South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa