Latest Risks For Smartphones; Data Theft by Malicious Apps

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Smartphones are everywhere, with new models seemingly being released every day.  Whether they use Android, iOS, Windows Mobile or another mobile operating system, these devices have quickly become invaluable assets to millions of users.  Unfortunately, this also makes them targets for those tech savvy criminals out to steal user data or cause other problems for smartphone owners.  

Smartphones can become infected with malware and other malicious software in various ways.  Users can download infected smartphone apps, usually from unofficial sources, with the app either containing the malware or actually being a malicious program itself.  Users can also encounter malware when clicking on infected links that may come via a text message, email, advertisement or simply browsing the Internet on their phones, a danger that even tablets and notepads are not immune to. In fact, Cisco Systems says criminals are increasingly moving away from traditional methods of targeting Windows PC-based devices and moving onto smartphones, mobile software and tablet devices. The company predicts this year will see a significant spike in the  number of attacks directed at these devices..

Part of the problem is that malware creators have become more adept at getting around the security features that operating system manufacturers place in their products.  Despite increased security patches, many malware programs are able to take complete control of infected phones and then transmit sensitive user data back to the program's creator and/or send texts and instant messages to contacts stored on the phone which contain links that will infect the contacts' phones if followed.

The malware problem is only likely to get worse, with new malware techniques becoming popular to replace older techniques that smartphone operating systems can block.  Seemingly-legitimate apps may contain advertising within the app that leads to malware or may issue updates that contain malware as part of an otherwise normal update schedule.  

Some apps that contain malware may even have the code hidden so that it only becomes active once certain conditions are met.  Often the apps that contain this malware were originally legitimate apps that were cracked by cyber-criminals, having the malicious code added to them before being re-released in a variety of legitimate and shady marketplaces.

If there is any good news among the reports of a malware increase it is that malware creators may have a hard time adapting to the differences in hardware that some smartphones have.  Android phones in particular feature a wide range of hardware from different manufacturers and not all malware is versatile enough to be effective on every handset.  Keylogging software in particular seems to have difficulty in adapting to the different keyboard types used with different phones, rendering it completely ineffective on some Android handsets.

With the drastic increase in malware attacks on mobile operating systems and the reported rise in malicious apps data security reaches an all-time importance. Here are a few things you can do to protect your smartphone from intruders;

  • Update the operating system for your smartphone should be upgraded whenever new updates become available as many of these updates include important security fixes designed to stop known malware from working. By staying vigilant and avoiding potentially dangerous software and websites you can keep both your phone and your personal data safe from cyber-thieves and other criminals.
  • Care should be taken only to download and install apps that you know come from legitimate sources, and links should be treated with the same scrutiny as you do on your computer; confirm the link is safe before clicking. Experts advise waiting a couple months before downloading a new app. Pay attention to user reviews and find out if any reported bugs have been fixed.
  • Pay particular attention to permissions requested by any app before you download; do some research to find out if there are reported issues and pay attention to user reviews. 
Smartphones (and tech savvy criminals) are smart --you need to be smarter. Take a few minutes to watch the below video --and learn what to watch out for when downloading apps.  See also blog: Smartphone Security Apps 


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I have Smartphone too. Interesting post thanks

I have a software that looks out for malware and other virus' that load onto my smartphone, because it is an extension of my computer. Good article. BEWARE is a good motto.

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