We love our mobile devices and it’s hard to imagine not having them nearby sometimes. The cybercriminals know this too. That is why they develop mobile malware to steal money. According to Kaspersky Labs’ Threat Evolution Report for the third quarter of the year, mobile malware is on the rise, particularly in countries where mobile banking is gaining popularity.
The report stated that in Q3, over 1.6 million malicious mobile installation packages were found to be in circulation and 2,500 of those were mobile banker Trojans. This is four times what was found in Q2 of this year and is the fastest growing category of mobile threats found in the wild (this means that it is active out in the general public in day-to-day situations, as opposed to in a controlled laboratory environment). In addition, there were over 5.5 million registered notifications regarding attempted malware infections. These were specifically geared toward stealing money from customers who use online banking.
This is why it is important that all consumers are aware of the dangers and learn to practice safe mobile security at all times. Knowledge is truly power and it will dramatically lower your chances of being a victim of cybercrime.
Here are a few basic things to remember when using your device:
- Don’t click on links or open attachments in email unless you are certain they are safe. This is how malware is mainly delivered, so it is largely in your control to stay malware free.
- Make sure anti-malware is installed on your mobile devices, regardless of the OS being used. Keep it updated.
- Update or patch all software when notified. In most cases, updates sent by major software companies are fixes to vulnerabilities that will keep you safe from malware targeting the very same software issues.
- Avoid using unsecured public Wi-Fi. Often hackers will sit in wait and hijack connections to steal login credentials.
- Be aware even when using password-protected public Wi-Fi, such as in cafes and coffee shops. These can also be risky. Therefore avoid performing financial transactions on these connections.
- If necessary to log in to a secured connection when in public, your work network for example, use a VPN from your mobile device. Alternatively use your device’s data network connection. There are still risks, but they are lower.
- Make sure the password to your internet connection access point, and all network devices such as routers and switches, are changed from the default that comes on them when they are first installed. Make them strong passwords and change them regularly.
- Keep anti-malware software updated on all devices in your home network that can have it. Remember that when you are at home, all of your internet connected devices (TV, thermostat, refrigerator, music system, etc.) are likely connected to each other also (unless you specifically separate them). Anything that penetrates your desktop can also get to your mobile devices no matter where you are in the house.
Malware is not going away any time soon. New varieties increased nearly 11% in the last quarter and the number of unique malicious URLs found in that three month period was nearly 75.5 million, according to the same report. Mobile devices are great tools, but the numbers show they will continue to be targeted. It’s up to us to learn what we need to do to keep our information safe when using them. Isn’t that better than not using them at all?
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