As we all migrate towards using smartphones and tablets, we need to be aware of the risks associated with them. Most of us know that we need to protect our computers with security software, but we don’t always take that precaution with our mobile devices. In fact nearly 75% of Americans do not use mobile security software and 36% of us don’t even use a basic PIN to lock our devices.
And if you’re an Android user there are some things you want to be aware of.
Mobile malware is growing and mostly on Android – Android has become the most popular mobile platform for hackers to target, and this past quarter, McAfee Labs™ found that all new forms of malicious mobile software were aimed solely at the Android operating system (OS).
There are a number of factors why mobile malware is growing rapidly on the Android OS. One of which it is the fastest growing platform and has the largest share of the mobile marketplace, and by nature, cybercriminals go where the large numbers are.
Malicious mobile activity is growing via apps – the mobile malware growth above is mostly from bad apps. And these bad apps can do anything from access your contacts and send them emails to “see” everything you do on your mobile device including typing in your user name and passwords to your financial accounts.
Watch app permissions – Android developers can choose from over 150 different permissions that the app can access on your mobile device. Some of these include turning on your camera and recording what it sees, accessing all your contacts and even accessing your IMEI code (which is like your phone’s Social Security number)! You just need to be aware of the type of app and why it would need to access certain information so it’s not sending your personal information to hackers.
For the moment, the amount of detected smartphone malware is relatively low compared to malware that targets desktop or laptop PCs; but being aware that it exists is the first step toward protecting yourself and your data. Here are some steps you can do to protect yourself:
First and foremost, use a PIN to lock your device.
Like with your computer, be cautious when clicking on links, especially from people you don’t know. And make sure you have web protection software which will prevent you from going to malicious sites.
When downloading apps, do your research and check it out before downloading. Read the ratings and reviews and only purchase apps from well-known reputable apps stores.
When you install an app, make sure you review the permissions it’s accessing on your device. And use an app protection feature that warns you if your apps are accessing information on your mobile that it doesn’t need to.
Install a comprehensive mobile security solution like McAfee Mobile Security that includes anti-malware as well as web protection, anti-theft and app protection features. Or if you want to protect all your devices, including your mobile devices, you can use McAfee All Access that protects all your PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets.
Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! (Disclosures)