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Malware Targeting Android Smartphones

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Last updated June 20th, 2013 by Boyana Peeva in Tech

AndroidAs more and more smartphones come out, the amount of people accessing the Internet greatly increases. But just like computers, smartphones can be susceptible to malware attacks from third-party websites, downloaded apps, and many other sources. We are seeing a rapid increase in the amount of malware targeting Android smartphones in particular. In order to accurately understand what this malware is and how to protect your phone from it, there are a few questions we must ask ourselves:

What Types of Malware Are Attacking Android Phones?

There are multiple different types of malware that have been known to target Android smartphones. One of the most common, however, is email malware, which embeds and encodes itself into your phone. There are many malicious emails right now that circle the globe and send themselves to you. Whenever you open an email that contains a malware attack, it embeds itself into your phone and begins to send personal information that is on your phone back to a command center. Hackers can then get your contacts, pictures, text messages, call logs, and various other forms of personally-identifying information directly from your mobile phone.

Another very popular type of malware that attacks android phones is one that takes the form of an app in the Android market. While Google has worked to block some of these apps, many of them are still finding a way through. Fortunately, if you have a good anti-spyware or anti-malware program on your cell phone, it should let you know whether or not you are about to install malicious software. However, sometimes these apps can break through even the strongest walls of security on your phone. These apps then track your location, break into your SMS/MMS messages, and more. Hackers can then use the personal information they take off your phone for malicious purposes.

Of all the forms of malware that attack Android phones, some of the most dangerous are:

  • Fake Banking Apps—Many apps have been disguised to look like the apps for legitimate financial institutions. Whenever you log in to this application, it then steals all your personal banking information so scammers can do what they please with it.
  • AndroidOS Fake Player—This particular app presents itself as an apparent music player for the Android phone, but when you install and open it, it sends SMS messages to premium numbers that may potentially end up costing you hundreds of dollars. Not to mention, the app sends these messages silently, so you won’t even know what has happened until after you receive your phone bill.

Why Android?

This is the biggest question that people are asking right now: why has Android suddenly become susceptible to a massive surge of malware attacks? The most logical answer is the Android market. It is open to so many new apps that Google wants to allow through, that at times, they can be a bit lax on their security systems. This then allows malicious apps to be created and submitted to the Android market for download, where unsuspecting users then download these data mining apps and run into problems later on.

Is the Malware for Android any Different from Malware for other OS?

No, the malware for Android phones doesn’t appear to be any different from the malware for other mobile phone operating systems. Malware exists on virtually all mobile phones, with possibly the exception of the iPhone. Almost all mobile phone systems are susceptible to malware attacks, and almost all the attacks are quite similar in nature to each other. What is different is the name of these attacks and some of the apps which they may arrive in, but all in all, the attacks are generally the same.

What are the Effects of this Malware?

We already know that many mobile phone malware attacks result in your financial information being stolen or your phone making messages to people you don’t even know about, but are there more effects? Yes, indeed there are. Here are few of the common effects that happen to your phone as a direct result of a malware attack:

  • Your personal contacts and their information can be stolen
  • Your pictures can be stolen
  • Social media accounts can be hacked into
  • Your phone could stop working altogether

What can be done to Prevent these Attacks?

Here are some important steps to take if you want to prevent your Android phone from becoming a victim of a malware attack:

  • Password protect your cell phone
  • Don’t view or share personal information on public Wi-Fi
  • Choose an antivirus app for your phone and keep it updated
  • Read the permissions on every app before installing it

Now that you understand how Android malware works, hopefully you can protect your phone from malicious software right away.

Boyana Peeva

Believes that the glass is rather half-full and that nothing is bigger than the little things. Enjoys writing, reading, and sharing content – information is power.

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