Follow these tips to protect your smartphone against malware.
Consumers are familiar with malware that attacks their personal computers, and most understand the measures necessary to protect against it, but there is new malware that targets smartphones with Android operating systems. The Better Business Bureau is warning the owners of these devices about the need to take precautions.
Initial reports of these malware complaints came from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. There are two versions of the malware that hit the Android systems in different ways. Loozfon is similar to phishing emails that lure users with offers of prizes or fast cash. By opening the email, the link pushes the malware onto the device and enables it to steal the address book and its contents. The second, FinFisher, uses text messages or links to load the malware onto the phone. Once installed, FinFisher is able to control and monitor the mobile device, regardless of its location.
It is important to understand the different ways that malware can infiltrate a mobile device. By understanding how it works, consumers can better protect their phones and their sensitive information. The BBB advises that mobile device users follow these steps:
- Understand how malware works. Be aware that malware can infect Android phones through spam emails or text messages, as well as through rogue websites.
- Do not open messages from unknown senders. Do not click on any links and don’t reply to suspicious email or text messages from unfamiliar parties—don’t even respond with a request to stop sending messages. This may confirm that a spammer has reached a valid address. Completely delete spam messages. If you click on questionable links or messages and you have a virus scan feature on your phone, run a full scan immediately.
- Ask your phone’s carrier how to block spam email or text message senders. Then send a block request whenever necessary to avoid getting additional spam from that source.
- Do not store personal financial information or financial account logins on your phone. Avoid sending such information in emails that could be stored on your phone, as well.
- Manage your software. Make sure your phone’s software is kept up-to-date. Be sure you download only legitimate software, and look to see what permissions you are giving before you download any new applications. Check to see whether anti-malware software is available for your phone, and find out how that software might affect battery life.
- “Jailbreaking” a device could make it more vulnerable to attack. Jailbreaking is the process of modifying a device’s operating system to allow for greater control over it. If this is the case for your phone, be extra-careful.
- Never connect to unknown wireless networks. They could be a conduit capturing information passed between your device and a legitimate server.
- Make the most of your phone’s protective features, including the default settings. Turn off features you don’t use to minimize the opportunities for attack. Use a pass code to protect your device. Set the screen lock feature to lock after a few minutes of inactivity.
- Wipe the device (reset it to factory default) if you sell or trade-in your handset to avoid leaving personal data on the device.
For more consumer tips, visit bbb.org. iBi