And if you rely on your mobile device for business, you could very easily be at risk. Here are three of the more dangerous mobile exploits that are happening now, and what you can do to protect yourself and your data.
Digital trojans have been around for many years, with the first mobile trojans infecting the Symbian OS back in 2004. Since then, this family of exploits has exploded in popularity among cybercriminals. Kaspersky Lab is currently tracking dozens of distinct mobile malware families.
Some of these nasty trojans try to obtain device administrator status and take control of your phone as part of a botnet. Or they blank the screen to hide what they are doing, such as sending malware to nearby users over Wi-Fi networks. Other trojans can even hold your phone hostage and demand payment before they will release their grip. The best way to handle these trojans and up your mobile security is simple prevention: limit your browsing sessions to known sites and be wary of clicking on any links that are emailed to you.
Those of us with Wi-Fi radios often leave these on when we travel as a matter of convenience. Well, this also makes it easier for the bad guys to connect to your smartphone, too. Anyone who has the appropriate radio scanners and software tools can see your phone broadcasting and compromise it. And this goes for any network your phone uses to broadcast. Several years ago, hackers built a specialty Bluetooth “rifle” that could obtain information from a phone almost a mile away! What sort of information? Texts, email, photos – absolutely everything. All stolen by someone who could literally be blocks away from you.
To avoid these sorts of issues, you should deactivate Wi-Fi, Bluetooth networks, and infrared radios when not in use. If your device has a hidden or “not discoverable” mode, switch your phone to that when you’re done using it. While it will take a bit longer to connect to these networks, you can increase your security profile considerably.
Downloading phony or malicious apps
Trend Micro has a report about how the number of bad apps for Android now tops a million and is still rising. That’s more than double the number that existed at the beginning of 2013. It’s easy to see how this is a threat to mobile security. But it’s a particular threat for Android, where the vetting process for a new app isn’t as stringent as with Apple’s app ecosystem, and where fake app stores are created daily to fool users into thinking they can download apps from them.
How can you protect yourself? Before you download another app, make certain that it comes from the legitimate source. Better yet, first use your browser to verify that the vendor is the one that you expected. A few seconds of research can save you from a lot of headaches. And this is true of any online or mobile security threat. If something on the web doesn’t seem quite right, a quick trip to Google can give you peace of mind.
Stay safe out there.