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South Africa’s Android device users beware

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Mobile malware
South Africans tend to think they are immune to the mobile threats that affect the developed world. (Image Credit: Darryl Linington).

Mobile malware is on the rise and attackers have made the Android Operating System (OS) their number one target. With South Africa ranking amongst the top most affected countries in the world when it comes to incidents of mobile malware attacks, it’s time for South African Android devices users to take note that they could be targeted.

“South Africans tend to think they are immune to the mobile threats that affect the developed world but South Africa actually ranks fifth in the world when it comes to incidents of mobile malware attacks.

Android malware, in particular, is growing at a shocking pace with over 96% of malware infections targeted as Android devices which are the most commonly used amongst South Africans.

“Mobile devices are exposed to multiple vectors of possible attack, phishing through mail being accessed on your device, infected applications from 3rd party application stores, direct attacks from SMS and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi snooping from accessing free Wi-Fi hotspots that hackers use to ‘watch’ your online activity.

“Some pieces of malware will spy to gather information such as phone logs, user location and smses while others can monitor your device for banking transactions, gathering sensitive details like passwords and account numbers. Quite common is malware which causes a device to send out SMSes to premium-rate numbers. These costs are then charged to the user’s account,” warns Michael Morton, mobile security expert at Securicom, a trusted managed IT security services vendor in South Africa.

While Android devices are the most-targeted by malware, other OS users shouldn’t be complacent. “Mobile security is something we should all be thinking about,” adds Morton.

He lists these tips for phone users to make their mobile experience more secure.

1. Make sure your OS is up to date with the latest version or patch release. Google and Apple regularly release new versions of their OS to address current vulnerabilities that exist.

2. Download your applications from reputable sites that are recommended by your OS provider. By downloading untrusted applications or applications from a 3rd party store might introduce malicious code onto your device that compromises your device security.

3. Use a strong complex password. This makes the access to your device more difficult.

4. Turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when not being used.

5. Install a mobile security application. There are many forms of free Anti-virus applications on the App store. These applications will scan your device and applications and report on any malicious or suspect behaviour.

6. Use a personal Firewall. This will be the same as a Firewall sitting at your office. You can use the Firewall to disable all ports on your device, only opening the ones you know are being used.

He concludes saying that companies that allow employees to use their personal devices for work purposes should implement a mobile device management (MDM) policy as well as a robust MDM technology to enforce it.

“Unsecure devices being able to access company networks in an uncontrolled manner can spell disaster.”

Staff Writer

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