With the popularity and affordability of smartphones and tablets, staying connected is now easier than ever. As consumers, we welcome the simplicity of the mobile platform, and we tend use our devices for everything from texting to social media to banking and online shopping. However, as more personal and sensitive data is available on mobile devices, fraudsters are quickly developing ways to exploit this new platform.
According to research by TrendMicro, by mid-2013, there were over 718,000 malicious apps detected on the Android platform. These malicious apps are capable of executing a variety of activities that ultimately help put money into the fraudsters’ pockets. The most common form of mobile malware, known as a premium service abuser, can cost a user real money. The malware gains access the SMS feature of infected devices and sends text messages to premium numbers owned by fraudsters. At the end of month, users can see hundreds of dollars in extra fees tacked on to the phone bills since these premium numbers charge the carriers directly.
So how can you protect yourself from malicious apps such as this? Well, this can be tricky because fraudsters are smart, and they intentionally design malicious apps to look very similar to real apps. As a user, it’s important you are extra aware of what you are doing on a mobile device. Here are some tips and tricks to help you protect your device – and your wallet – from mobile malware:
- Read URLs before you click on any link
- Before downloading an app from an app store, read the publisher’s name and check how many times the app has been downloaded
- Use stronger passwords to protect apps on your phone
- If you receive a text or email from a friend with a recommendation to download an app, verify that your friend actually sent the message
- Download mobile anti-virus software to your phone
With just a little diligence, you can keep your device clean from malware.