Once your phone is hacked, your other devices may be next if they are connected. That’s because your overall online security is only as strong as the weakest link in your chain of connected devices. Malware can spread from your hacked phone to your tablet or another mobile device through the network.
This article identifies five mobile security threats and how you can help protect yourself from them.
1. Madware and spyware
Madware is short for mobile adware. It’s a script or program installed on your phone, often without your consent. Its job? To collect your data for the purpose of better targeting you with ads. On top of that, madware often comes attached at the hip with spyware. Spyware collects data about you based on your internet usage and transmits it to a third party. That data is then bought and used by companies to send you advertisements. However, seeing more ads is the least of your worries when it comes to spyware. It also collects information about your location, internet usage, and even your contacts. This makes it a problem not just for you, but perhaps also for everyone you know.
2. Viruses and Trojans
Viruses and Trojans can also attack your mobile devices. They typically come attached to what appear to be legitimate programs. They can then hijack your mobile device and mine the information it holds or has access to, such as your banking information. Viruses and Trojans have also been known to send premium text messages that can be costly
3. Drive-by downloads
Drive-by downloads refer to any malware installed on your device without consent. If you visit the wrong website or open the wrong email, you might be exposed to a drive-by download that automatically installs a malicious file on your mobile device. The file could be anything from adware, malware or spyware to something far more nefarious, like a bot, which can use your phone to perform malicious tasks.
4. Browser exploits
Browser exploits take advantage of known security flaws in your mobile browser. Browser exploits also work against other applications that function with your browser, such as PDF readers. If you see that your mobile browser’s homepage or search page has unexpectedly changed, it could be a sign that you’re a victim of a browser exploit.
5. Phishing and grayware apps
Phishing apps are a new take on an old theme. In the past, criminals would send emails that appeared to come from a trusted source. They’d ask for personal information, such as your password, hoping you’d be trusting enough to respond. Phishing apps are designed to look like real apps, and a mobile device’s smaller screen can make it even more difficult to tell the difference. These fake apps secretly collect the information you input — passwords, account numbers, and more.
Grayware apps aren’t completely malicious, but they can be troublesome because they often expose users to privacy risks.
How to protect yourself from mobile security threats
Mobile security threats may sound scary, but here are six steps you can take to help protect yourself from them.
- Keep your software updated. Only 20 percent of Android devices are running the newest version and only 2.3 percent are on the latest release.1 Everything from your operating system to your social network apps are potential gateways for hackers to compromise your mobile device. Keeping software up to date ensures the best protection against most mobile security threats.
- Choose mobile security. Just like computers, your mobile devices also need internet security. Make sure to select mobile security software from a trusted provider and keep it up to date.
- Install a firewall. Most mobile phones do not come with any kind of firewall protection. Installing a firewall provides you with much stronger protection against digital threats and allows you to safeguard your online privacy.
- Always use a passcode on your phone. Remember that loss or physical theft of your mobile device can also compromise your information.
- Download apps from official app stores. Both the Google Play and Apple App stores vet the apps they sell; third-party app stores don’t always. Buying from well-known app stores may not ensure you never get a bad app, but it can help reduce your risk.
- Always read the end-user agreement. Before installing an app, read the fine print. Grayware purveyors rely on your not reading their terms of service and allowing their malicious software onto your device.