Smartphones and tablets are becoming less of a luxury and more of a commodity every day. With eighty percent of phones on the market being smartphones and tablet sales skyrocketing malware developers are taking notice. Malware is software that is designed specifically to hurt a user by stealing information, disrupting operation of the device, gaining unauthorized access to the device, and otherwise potentially harmful actions to the hardware, software, or user.
The biggest malware threat is to the Android Market. Android apps are targeted because of the combination of their popularity and an open app market place that has given malware developers free reign and higher chances of downloads. Though Android has come under fire for its open ecosystem that does not mean that the iOS in impenetrable. It was recently shown that the Apple operating system does have its own weaknesses. McAfee, a leader in computer safety and protection, released this statement, “While reported mobile malware incidents are still relatively low in number, McAfee Labs is seeing significant growth in the mobile malware threat landscape.” Though this seems a little unnerving there are thing that you can do to protect yourself from malware.
The threat is nowhere near as bad as on a PC as of yet. These developers are not looking for hard work so they are going to target platforms and devices with the highest amount of potential victims. To keep yourself from being exploited your first step is to know that a threat exists.
Read reviews before you download an app. Just like you would read reviews before you purchase a product from Amazon finding positive reviews will give you piece of mind. Something as simple as running a quick Google search can let you know if the app you want to download is legitimate. You can also ask friends, family, and check social networks for more input.
Be cautious of third party sources. Though not all third party app sources are bad, but the odds of getting malware are much higher. To reach these third party sources in the iOS platform you would have to jailbreak your device. If this is the case then you should already be aware of the risks that are involved with jail breaking. Android users may not be aware of the threat considering third party sources are normal for the Android OS. Android users can protect themselves by downloading from the Android Market or at least a trusted platform like the Amazon app store.
Be aware of what your apps are asking from you. Due to built in security measures app usually must ask permission to access certain areas of your mobile device. If your newest gaming app is asking for permission to access your camera or contacts this may be a red flag.
If you feel that you are in a high risk category of mobile device users several computer security companies have begun to offer security services. Just like the malware threat theses security offering are fairly new and come in different forms from monitoring services to mobile software. As the malware threat grows these smartphone and tablet security offerings are sure to grow with them.