Phones in the office are threatening your business and you may not even realize it. To many companies, the rise of mobile devices is a great thing. Business can be done quicker, more efficiently, and with less paperwork. But in the recent years cyber threats has been in the rise targeting many enterprises. The threat also applies to mobile phones. In the second half of 2012 alone, Bitdefender found that Android malware spiked 292% from the first half of the year. This could pose a threat to millions of smartphone users worldwide. You may be asking yourself, what if I have a cell phone virus and what is it anyway?
Is there really such a thing as an Android virus?
Historically carried over from the old PC world, a “virus” is a program that replicates itself by attaching to another program. Hackers often used this method to spread their nefarious work, and virus became a popular term to refer to all types of malicious software (malware) on computers. In the case of smartphones, to date we have not seen malware that replicate itself like a PC virus can, and specifically on Android this does not exist, so technically there are no Android viruses. However, there are many other types of Android malware. Most people think of any malicious software as a virus, even though it is technically inaccurate.
So what is Android malware?
Malware, short for malicious software, is software designed to secretly control a device, steal private information or money from the device’s owner. Malware has been used to steal passwords and account numbers from mobile phones, put false charges on user accounts and even track a user’s location and activity without their knowledge. Learn about some of the most notable malware Lookout has blocked in Resources Top Threats.
How would I get malware on my phone?
Fraudsters make it their job to disguise malware as innocent-looking mobile apps on app stores and websites. The safest bet is to stick with downloading well-known apps from well-known apps from reputable markets like Google Play in addition to having a security app.
So if you’re thinking that it’s a good idea to download a just-published, supposedly free version of Angry Birds you found on a random Chinese app store, it’s probably not. Once installed, these apps may appear to work just as described, but they are can be busy with additional secret tasks. Some apps start out clean, but are given malicious capabilities after a seemingly routine software update.
And conscientious app downloading won’t always minimize your risk. Sneaky, drive-by-download sites can download a potentially malicious app file without any user intervention. Safe Browsing in Lookout Premium for Android will block web-based threats like that, but even so, you also shouldn’t install random downloads from your download manager that you didn’t expect to find there.
How can you steer clear of downloading a malicious app?
- Only download apps from official app stores…
- …and avoid third-party stores.
- Check you’re downloading from an official or reputable app developer.
- Read app reviews. They’ll give you the information you need.
- Keep app verification tools switched on at all times.
- Don’t get fooled by offers of free apps.
- Keep your phone updated!
There are a lot of malicious apps out there, especially if you’re using an Android device. But by understanding the threats, and sticking to our quick tips, you and your device will remain in good health.