You hear about computer viruses all the time, but maybe you haven’t heard that much about smartphone viruses yet. That’s going to change because they’re on the rise. In the first few months of 2022, experts detected a 500 percent increase in malware attacks directed at mobile devices.
Your phone may be more vulnerable to malware attacks than you realize. If you have an Android phone, you definitely need to be using an antivirus. If you have an iPhone, the chances of catching a virus or picking up some malware are smaller, but not zero. And either way, you should probably be a little more careful about what you download from the App Store or the Play Store. Here’s what you need to do to protect your phone and the data it contains.
Install Antivirus Software and Run a Scan
The scary thing about smartphone malware is that you might already have some, and not even know it. Millions of people downloaded malicious apps on Google Play Store, and you could have easily been one of them. If your phone is performing poorly, draining its battery quickly, overheating, or crashing randomly, it could be the result of a virus or some malware. If you’re getting strange pop-ups or seeing charges on your bill that you don’t recognize, that could be a sign of an infection, too.
Hackers use malware and social engineering attacks, like “smishing” attacks, to get valuable data like banking and other account passwords, snoop on you via your phone’s camera and smartphone, track your location, take control of your phone, or even wipe the data on your phone. What you need to do, whether you think your phone is showing signs of having been hacked or not, is install an antivirus for smartphones and run a scan to make sure your system is clean.
Update Your OS Regularly
There is no such thing as an operating system (OS) that’s impervious to malware. It’s true that mobile phones are somewhat less vulnerable to viruses and malware than computers are, because apps tend to be “sandboxed” so that they can’t run amok through the entire OS. But Android, iOS, and other OS all have flaws that hackers can exploit.
However, manufacturers are frantically trying to keep up with advances in hacking, and patching security flaws as fast as they can. That’s why you should always install smartphone updates as soon as you can, so you can benefit from that extra protection against known threats.
Be Careful Even When Downloading Apps Through Approved Channels
You might think you’re safe downloading apps from the Play Store or the App Store, and for the most part, you’d be right. But even though both Apple and Google go to great lengths to keep malicious apps out of their distribution channels, sometimes they still appear. It’s a good idea to check the reviews for an app before you download it – other people who have downloaded it will tell you if it’s been questionable. You should also pay close attention to the permissions the app wants. Apps that want access to things like contact lists might be designed to propagate themselves to everyone on that list via smishing text. Apps that want access to your camera and microphone may be designed to spy on what you’re doing. If an app is asking for permissions that seem invasive and that don’t have anything to do with what the app is for, be suspicious and look for another option.
Backup Your Phone Regularly
You could do all the right things and still be a victim of a cyber attack. Back up your photos and other important data regularly, so that if you are a victim of an attack, you won’t lose them.
Use a Lock Screen Password
It wouldn’t make sense to protect your phone from cyber threats and then not protect it from real-world threats. Use a passcode on your lock screen or turn on biometric identification. That way, if someone picks up your phone (or steals it), they won’t be able to access your accounts and info immediately. That doesn’t mean they won’t be able to get into the phone eventually, but you can wipe the phone remotely to protect your data from falling into the hands of criminals.
Your phone may be more vulnerable to malware than you think. Smartphone malware is on the rise, and hackers are getting more and more creative as they find new ways you separate victims from their money. Protect your data with an antivirus suite for smartphones.