Your smartphone knows everything about you but is your information safe? From banking to global positioning system (GPS), there are many reasons to protect the personal data on your mobile device. Hackers are targeting the Android operating system and there are steps you should be taking to protect yourself.
Malware is a generic term used to describe any type of software or code specifically designed to exploit a computer or the data it contains, without consent. Malware includes viruses, Trojans, spyware, adware, most rootkits and other malicious programs. Some malware is used as a one-time attack that just wipes your hard drive or sends all of your passwords to an unknown server. That kind of attack is a cakewalk in comparison to a type of malware called a Trojan.
A Trojan is a type of malware that leaves a backdoor open to your system for the hacker to access at any time. If someone steals all of your passwords in a one-time attack, the solution is easy: you just change your passwords. However, if you have a Trojan that steals your passwords, hackers will have your new passwords the second you change them. Trojans are an unending nightmare for your personal data.
With more people using mobile devices to orchestrate every detail of their lives, mobile Trojan malware is on the rise. Scarier still, these Trojans aren’t just after your excel sheets, they’re sending text messages on your behalf and gathering data on your location.
The newest iterations of malware are the most sophisticated and dangerous Trojans yet. See Lianne Caetano’s blog on Obad.a, the newest Android Trojan that cannot be deleted. Obad.a lets a hacker completely control your phone without you ever knowing about it and your phone can catch it just by standing next to someone with an infected phone.
Here are some ways you can protect your phone from Obad.a and other terrible Trojans that might be targeting your personal data:
- Get mobile security. Mobile security products scan your phone for malware and can remove suspicious software before you become the victim of an attack. Having an antivirus on your phone is the easiest and most basic security measure you can take, and as mobile devices become a hub for ever more important activities (including online banking and shopping,) protecting your personal information means installing comprehensive security on all of your devices, not just your PC or laptop. If you’d prefer to use one security solution for all of your devices, check out McAfee LiveSafe.
- Don’t download questionable apps! Before you download an app, take a second to check out reviews, or do a simple web search to see if it’s reputable. You should also carefully review permissions requests for any new app you download, and make sure you know whether your favorite new word game is accessing your email or social networks, or sharing your geographic location. Appearances can be misleading, and some apps install hidden malware on your mobile devices.
- Do not download files that you are not 100% certain of what they contain. Even trusted friends can unknowingly send you a file with hidden malware.
- Do not leave your Wi-Fi on. Manually connect to Wi-Fi before you use it every single time and only connect to trusted networks, like a password-protected wireless network in your home or office. It is an annoying inconvenience, but most phones are set to connect to any available Wi-Fi network—meaning the free internet at your local café could give hackers access to your phone even if you aren’t using it while you pick up coffee.
- Secure Bluetooth access with a password. Never leave your Bluetooth connections unprotected. As some unfortunate consumers have already discovered, Obad.a and other new Trojans can use Bluetooth to “jump” from one device to the next.
With mobile Trojans on the rise, you need to take precautions to protect your personal data. These simple measures will keep your information safe and your phone free of malicious software.