Smartphone Tips

How To Protect Your Smartphone From Malware

How-To-Protect-Your-Smartphone-From-MalwareIn 2014, consumers purchased 1.3 billion smartphones. In 2015, that number is expected to jump to a round 2 billion units. Quite simply, the technology world is becoming more and more based around the smartphone market. And according to experts, that means that smartphones are also going to be the prime target for cyber crime and fraud in the next year or two.

According to a report from a Bank Info Security interview with Daniel Cohen, an expert on cyber crime, “the bad guys are looking” at the smartphone sales figures, and realizing that their best chances of hoodwinking or robbing consumers will likely come on mobile platforms. In fact, some cyber criminals already made that realization in 2014. More will follow suit this year.

Existing Mobile Malware

For instance, many mobile customers struggled in 2014 with Svpeng, a nasty piece of malware that covertly downloads itself onto your device, and that is capable of performing two damaging functions.

First, Svpeng is an overlay attack program. What that means is that the software is capable of presenting counterfeit (or “overlay”) versions of login pages. Specifically, programs like Svpeng lie in wait until users go to login to their mobile banking accounts. Svpeng then launches an overlay login page to steal the user’s banking password and compromise their account.

Secondly, Svpeng has a function that allows it to work as a ransomware program. Ransomware has been common on PCs for a number of years now. It works by somehow locking a computer and/or making it very difficult to use, and then demands that users pay a fee to make the problem go away. Sometimes, it manifests as a notification from the police or the government, accusing the user of illegal content distribution and demanding a money wire transfer. Other times, it encrypts your files and taunts you with them, also asking for a wire transfer to unlock the documents.

Svpeng brings a similar blackmail or ransom concept to smartphones, locking the device, making it borderline impossible to use, and demanding a payout to fix the problem. Needless to say, this kind of fraud is very problematic for customers, who often need to use their phones for both personal and professional reasons every single day.

How to Protect Your Smartphone From Malware

The bad news is that programs like Svpeng are going to become more common in 2015 and beyond. The good news is that there are ways to protect your smartphone from malware.

  1. Only Download Reputable Apps – Be very conscious of the links you open and the apps you download. Even something sent by a person you trust could be an automated message sent from another infected phone. Similarly, just because an application is on the Apple or Google Play store doesn’t mean it is reputable. Apple generally does a pretty good job of weeding out the riff raff, but Android apps are open source, so not all of them are going to be safe. To be safe, read user reviews of every app before you tap “Download.”
  2. Install Anti-Malware on Your Smartphone – Look around for a reputable piece of anti-malware or anti-virus software that you can install on your phone. Read reviews online to find the right program for your specific device, and then learn how to use the new app to detect and block malware attacks. With any luck, this will help you to shut down any cyber attacks before they harvest your personal information or cause harm to your device.

Don’t let your smartphone become the prime target of cyber crime and fraud. Take the above steps to secure your smartphone from the bad guys.