Mobile malware is on the rise and your device could be at risk. These tips could help you stay safe and keep your personal information out of the hands of cybercriminals.
Well, if you currently analyze the smartphone market then you can see that the adoption rate of mobile devices has skyrocketed and evidently Android is leading the way. The open-source operating system that has been developed by Google is now found on more than half of all smartphones. In fact, according to a report from Strategy Analytics, about nine in 10 smartphones shipped in the latest quarter ran Google's mobile operating system.
In addition, Android accounted for a record 87.5% of the 375 million smartphones shipped in the third quarter, ending September 30, 2016. So you can clearly see from the stats that Android continues to dominate the smartphone market.
However, because of its popularity and a massive user base, it has now caught the attention of cybercriminals. Currently, Android mobiles are being targeted by virus and malware developers. Moreover, these malware developers are targeting Android mobile devices to accomplish their goals or illegally obtain personal information from Android owners.
While this is the present scenario in the Android world, with the advancement of mobile technology, mobile malware and viruses are becoming more advanced and thus are infecting millions of mobile worldwide. On the other hand, it is highly recommended that you stick to apps from the official Google Play Store only. If you do you are unlikely to encounter any of the dangerous malware out there. Just to let you know, malware lives and thrives in unofficial app stores, which are largely unregulated.
Having said all that, here are the worst malware types you should be aware of and also keep your mobile away.
Ransomware is basically a type of malware that encrypts your files and demands a ransom to be paid off to re-gain access back to your files.
An example of ransomware would be an app called Simplocker. Simplocker is basically a Trojan malware that disguises itself as an app suitable for adults only. If Simplocker is downloaded and as it enters your smartphone it scans your smartphone's SD card for documents, images and videos. After the scan is complete it encrypts those files using Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). Then it displays a fake FBI message in Russian that accuses the victim of downloading and viewing child pornography on their device. And to get the files back, Simplocker demands some amount to be paid within 24 hrs. It claims that failing to pay the ransom will result in removing all of the files that it has encrypted. However, it has been said that the app doesn't have the functionality to do so.
If you are infected with Simplocker, you can download Simplocker Decryptor that was created by ESET.
Another type of ransomware which has gained lot notoriety is the "svpeng", which combines ransomware with credit card theft. Svpeng works by presenting a screen to input credit card details every time a user accesses Google Play Store, which then sends the credit card details to the criminal behind this malware. Moreover, once spveng is on your smartphone, it would check to see whether you have a banking app installed.
The good news is the Russian police arrested the creator of spveng in April after he stole more than 50 million rubles ($930, 000) and infected more than 350, 000 Android devices.
Mobile Shutting Down
Android/PowerOffHijack discovered by AVG, is a type of malware that takes control of the process responsible for shutting down your smartphone. With this malware, your phone appears to be off when in fact it's on and functioning. Interestingly, the malware even plays the shutdown animation to show that your device is really turning off.
And what this power off hijack really does is it secretly takes pictures, makes calls, and sends messages while you think that your phone is turned off. On the bright side, this type of malware only affects Android versions under 5.0, requires root access and has been found only on apps outside of Google Play Store.
This malware has currently created a fear among Android users worldwide. According to experts, "HummingBad" has already attacked more than 10 million Android devices worldwide. Dangerously, this malware has the power to take control of devices; it forces users to click advertisements and download apps by using a multistage attack chain.
Moreover, the malware tries to gain access to your device through certain websites and infect it. Once it gets through the device it then tries to gain root access to the device by running software. If it succeeds to get the root access, the attackers will gain full access to your mobile. In case if the malware fails to gain root access, it uses a fake system through which it sends an update notification to your mobile to get system-level permission.
This virus can be pretty devastating and harmful for your device. Why we say that is because "Viking Horde" has been created for Google Play Store apps. Through these apps, the virus creates a place in Android devices. Moreover, the virus can infect both rooted and non-rooted devices. So, whenever a user downloads an infected app from Google Play Store, the device gets infected by the malware. The risks of rooted devices are bigger compared to non-rooted devices.
In rooted devices, "Viking Horde" installs software and executes code remotely to get access to the mobile data. If it does, then the data of your mobile is at risk. The reason behind launching this app is for conducting ad clicks, spam messages, and others.
While mobile browsing of the internet is growing with smartphone and tablet penetration, fraudsters and cyber criminals are now creating mobile phishing sites that look similar to a legitimate service. And with the existence of such sites these attackers are stealing users' credentials or worse.
The fact that mobile devices come with smaller screen is making malicious phishing techniques easier to hide from users. As such it is less sophisticated on mobile devices than PCs. Moreover, phishing schemes use rogue mobile apps, programs which can be considered "trojanized", while hiding their true intent as a system update, marketing offer or game. Some of these malware infect legitimate apps also with malicious code which can be only discovered after installing.
Having looked at the different types of mobile malware, you might have an idea on how they spread and infect devices. While the do come in various ways, they all can produce similar symptoms. Well, signs of a malware infection can include unwanted behaviors and degradation of device performance. Stability issues such as frozen apps, failure to reboot and difficulty connecting to the network are also common.
In addition, mobile malware can drain your battery or processing power, hijack the browser, send unauthorized SMS messages, freeze or spoil the device entirely.
How to be Safe?
So if you are wondering how you can avoid and be safe from such malware then there are several best practices that all mobile users should follow to prevent Android malware infections. In essence, some malware cases may require special prevention and treatment methods, but following these recommendations will greatly increase a user's protection from a wide range of mobile malware.
#1 Download apps only from official app stores like Apple's App Store or Google Play. The vast majority of malicious apps are found on unofficial app stores or websites, many based in China or Russia.
#2 Do some research on the developer and their reputation. Read user ratings, paying special attention to reviews from disgruntled users, and seek out app recommendations from reputable sources.
#3 Think twice before granting "permissions" when installing new apps for the first time. Often, malicious app developers are counting on that level of carelessness to sneak malware onto your device. Always make sure to carefully read the end user agreement before clicking to understand exactly what permissions the app is asking for.