Consider the number of applications on your smartphone today. Do you know what data each app collects? Do you know what they do with the data and who it is shared with? Now think about the confidential data that you access from your phone – banking and/or other financial information, work emails, social media etc. What would you do if one of your apps that is never used was sharing your confidential data? Mobile malware is a growing threat that can open a gateway straight to your proprietary and personal identity.

To cyber criminals, your personal information is a billion dollar industry waiting to be exploited. Mobile cyber criminals want the quickest and easiest path to money. The most common techniques they use to target mobile device users are click fraud, fake reviews, and malvertising.

How to avoid mobile malware:
  1. Only download apps from the official app store – While some malicious apps do make it through the screening process, the majority of the attack downloads appear to be coming from social media, fake ads, and other unofficial app sources.
  2. Make sure your phone is running on the most recent software update – Often the mobile device itself may have vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. Usually these vulnerabilities are discovered fairly quickly and patched up, but if you’re not regularly updating the software on your phone, your device will be vulnerable.
  3. Beware of app reviews – Reviews and rankings are still a good method of determining whether an app is legitimate. However, watch out for reviews that reuse the same simple phrases, as they are probably an indication of fake reviews pumping up a suspicious or malicious app.
  4. For work use – follow BYOD policies and use security software.

Sometimes malicious apps are totally hidden from you. While hackers are constantly targeting mobile phones and tablets with fake ads and phishing emails, there is also a growing trend for hidden apps. Hidden apps will hide themselves, stealing precious resources and data from you. Their goal is to stay out of sight and out of mind. Hidden apps are the most active mobile threat category, generating almost half of all malicious telemetry this year, a 30% increase from 2018. With hidden app icons, you have to take more steps to find and remove those unwanted apps.

Signs of bad apps on your phone:
  1. Slow internet connections – Malicious apps use a lot of internet bandwidth to operate. If your connection speeds suddenly crash, that can be a clear sign.
  2. Using too much data – Even if you have an unlimited data plan, always keep an eye on your data usage for sudden unexpected spikes in data usage.
  3. Limited battery life – Malicious apps require a lot of battery. If you go from full charge to suddenly having limited life without actively using your phone, then a bad hidden app may be causing your problem.

Most smartphone users believe that their mobile devices are immune to cyber threats. This is a common and dangerous misconception. The easiest way for cyber criminals to get what they want is for you to let them in. Awareness for yourself, your family and your staff on the existence of mobile device threats can be one of your greatest defenses.