Download with Caution! McAfee Identifies Risky Mobile App Sources

As more people use mobile devices in their daily lives, those devices are rendering them increasingly vulnerable to infection through the very apps we rely on to make our lives easier.

According to McAfee’s recent report, “Mobile Security: McAfee Consumer Trends Report – June 2013”, malware threats have not only increased for mobile devices, but have augmented in sophistication and determination, often infecting a device with multiple malicious actions.

Where email previously presented the highest risk for infecting a system through the misled click of a mysterious link, most viruses are now delivered via the downloading of mobile apps containing malware. According to the study, roughly 1 in 6 apps downloaded by users contained suspicious URLS and/or malware.

Other findings from the report include:

  • Almost 1/4 of the “risky apps” that contained malware also contained suspicious URLs;
  • 40% of malware families misbehave in more than one way, working on multiple fronts to gain and exploit protected information from devices;
  • 23% of mobile spyware joins a botnet or opens a backdoor, increasing the risk of data loss or device abuse;
  • Crooked app stores use “black hat” search engine optimization (SEO).

These apps may include both malware and suspicious URLs in combination to permit more complex attacks, although not all risky apps contain malware. All risky apps, however, can be delivery portals for cybercrime tools, harboring malicious code and hacker tools, as well as links to websites that criminals control.

The infections they bring to a mobile device can steal your personal information and perpetrate fraud under your own name, or abuse a device by making it part of a criminal bot network.

How do you spot and protect yourself from these “risky apps” and other attacks on your mobile lifeline? Few tips from McAfee:

• Avoid downloading from suspicious or unfamiliar websites, especially on mobile devices
• Check the rating of an app from the store from where you are downloading
• Read the user reviews for the app before downloading (this will quickly tell you if an app should be trusted or not)
• Use McAfee Social Protection software to scan each app download and identify risky apps

When in doubt, you can also check out the McAfee research database, which houses a massive collection of mobile apps—both innocent and risky.

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