A slow smartphone is enough to frustrate any user. While often dismissed as a factor of age, wear and tear or even too little space from installing too many apps, the truth is often more sinister, thanks to malware.
For the many who might have though they read a foreign word above, malware is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “software that is specifically designed to disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorised access to a computer system,” and being a computer system itself, for your smartphone, the definition remains the same.
According to Norton, a cyber-security firm behind antivirus software, once your phone is hacked, your other devices may be next if they are connected.
“That’s because your overall online security is only as strong as the weakest link in your chain of connected devices. Malware can spread from your hacked phone to your tablet or another mobile device through the network,” the company says.
How smartphones are attacked by malware
The internet, littered with malicious websites, is ready to attack smartphones too, and it could be as simple as accidentally tapping on what may seem to be a harmless website.
Scores of websites also feature apps which can easily be downloaded, bypassing the veil of security offered when downloading them from authentic platforms like the iOS App Store or Google Play.
Once installed, the apps request permission which users are more often inclined to grant in favour of using the malicious downloaded app, such as an app, to stream music or movies.
Despite claiming to be free, the cost of downloading these can amount to a lot more than simply paying for a legitimate subscription to Netflix or Spotify, for example.
When a device is infected, indications are often that it may become sluggish almost immediately, while often overheating.
Other effects malware can have on a smartphone include:
– Spyware collects data, which is then sold to companies.
– Trojan viruses are almost indistinguishable from regular files or apps and, once opened, infect the targeted device, even stealing private or financial information.
– Phishing exploits that attempt to gain private or financial information from a user.
How to protect your smartphone from Malware:
Keep your device updated
Smartphone software developers for Android and iOS often release new versions of their operating system software periodically, usually after bugs are found.
As a first step of precaution, it is always important to have the latest available version of a smartphone’s operating system installed on a device.
Install an antivirus
Antivirus software is readily available for most mobile devices and operating systems. However, these are often paid apps.
While they do have the potential to add a further layer of protection to a device, they often need constant updating, even if it has been paid for and with the discovery of new viruses, even if a device has not experienced attacks.
Use trusted app stores
One of the most common methods in which malware attacks smartphones is during the installation of apps from third-party websites.
To avoid malware attacks, it is important to use only trusted websites or app stores to download apps, especially in cases where links to such apps are received through text or WhatsApp messages.
Norton recommends that users always read the end-user agreement before installing an app.
“By taking just a few common-sense precautions, you can help protect yourself from malware and other mobile security threats,” the company said.