Most, if not all, smartphone users are probably aware about the security risks their mobile phones may go through. While Android devices have a great risk of being infected, the threat is also very much possible on iOS devices as well. Most of the time, it happens on phones that are running on older iOS versions, or on devices that have been jailbroken. So it doesn’t matter which device you currently have, it is necessary be aware of the nature of smartphone malware and how to protect yourself from it.

What is smartphone malware?

By definition, malware (short for malicious software), is a program that is made to cause damage or harm to your device. Viruses, a subset of malware, work by infecting existing files similar to a real virus. Usually, computers are the main targets of malware attacks, but recently, smartphones have also became common targets of these harmful entities.

So what actually does malware do to your smartphone? Our phones are teeming with many personal information such as passwords, email address, contact information of your friends and family members, and places where you’ve been or planning to go to. Imagine all those information gets leaked and goes into the hands of a cybercriminal — the consequences will surely be tragic.

How is malware transmitted to your smartphone?

Malware, having almost the same nature as that of a real virus, are not actually contagious per se. Some spread out and infect a wide array of host machines, if they are found to be vulnerable. Apple’s smartphones and most new Android devices, already support device encryption, and the application faces through which malware may possibly distributed are normally watched carefully for that kind of behavior.

Before, the Android Market and the App Store both struggle with malware disguised as friendly applications. Since then, both Google and Apple made some tighter moderation of their services, but even though the chance of risk may be slimmer, it doesn’t mean the chances are impossible. And even though these companies toughens their moderation, it’s still not enough to prevent any type of infection from happening, since smartphone malware usually evades those fronts entirely.

For example, some websites may display a pop-up of a false version of your device’s Store, luring you to download an application that you think is harmless but in fact is a malware.

How do you remove malware?

For iOS users, the options are a bit slim. If you can’t update the iOS version of your device, or if there’s no existing fix for that issue yet, your choices would be either uninstalling the application (if that works or even possible, which unfortunately isn’t in some instances) or do a total cleanup of your device and restored your apps from the App Store.

Meanwhile, Android users have a wide variety of anti-malware applications, usually developed by some big names in PC security, like Avast and Malwarebytes. These applications are perfect when it comes to removing any malware infection your device is having. However, if using any of these anti-malware programs or uninstalling the culprit is not possible in your case, then you’d probably end up similar to iOS users and perform a complete sweep of your device back to its factory settings.

For users who have their Android devices rooted, they should be extra cautious — if the infection occurred due to you granting Superuser access to your device, you may just need to install a custom recovery, wipe clean your entire phone, and then flash a completely new ROM, factory, or custom. Infections caused by Superuser access can sometimes avoid even a factory reset removal attempt.

So let’s say your Android device just recovered from an infection or if your smartphone haven’t had any infection so far and you just want it to stay that way — what do you need to do?

How to prevent malware infection on your smartphone?

There’s only one golden rule — be careful.

Think twice first before installing any application from untrusted or unknown sources. If you’re not completely sure of what you’re installing, DO NOT INSTALL IT. Avoid going to suspicious websites, especially those that plague you with so many pop-ups in an attempt to trick you of committing a mistake of installing malware. Similar to computers, smartphones are also considered as computers and they experience the same types of infection and exploitation from cybercriminals on the Web.

If you want to provide your smartphone additional security, you may want to consider installing it some security apps such as Malwarebytes or Avast. You can find tons of free, trustworthy, and reliable apps that will keep your smartphone protected.

 

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This entry was posted by Staff Writer on Saturday, June 13, 2015 at 10:00:51 AM and is filed under Computer Security & Data Protection.

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