Crucial Steps to Understanding and Avoiding Mobile Malware


February 23, 2016

mobile malwareAs employees continue to access and share work data using smartphones, it’s crucial that you understand the threats facing mobile devices. In the past, malware has been mostly limited to desktops and laptops, but that’s not the case anymore. Malware on smartphones is a particularly large threat right now, meaning you should understand what you are up against and learn how to effectively combat it.

Malware, for those who don’t know, encompasses a wide range of viruses, spyware, ransomware, worms, etc. Often, malware attacks result in a major financial loss for the targets. The most reliable way to stay safe is a proactive approach – understanding how mobile malware works and how you can avoid it.

Why hasn’t mobile malware been a major problem like PC malware?

Well, it has been a problem, but the outbreaks that have occurred so far haven’t been as widespread or damaging as PC-based malware outbreaks of the past.

  • There have been several incidents of mobile malware outbreaks, but for the most part they have been limited to jailbroken devices where users have intentionally bypassed security features built into the phone’s factory operating system.
  • Android already had trouble with a ransomware app that would take over a user’s device until they paid $500, though its release was luckily limited.

One of the most prominent reasons that malware has had a slow start on mobile platforms is that both Apple and Google developed their Android and IOS operating systems with modern security principles in mind.

PC operating systems, Microsoft Windows in particular, have been burdened by the need to maintain compatibility with older hardware and software that often didn’t fall in line with modern security features that new operating systems would ideally enforce.

Shop in The App Store

Android and iOS both restrict any software from being loaded onto a device unless it’s been purchased through the App and Play Stores.

  • Providing these stores makes the process of finding apps easier for users while also giving the upstream companies a chance to enhance security. This is in contrast this the traditional approach for loading PC-based software, which offers minimal regard for source or safety.

Exercise Caution

  • If a website you rarely visit prompts you to install their app, you’re better off saying no. iOS and Android will try to inform you of the permissions that you grant to an app after install, but any app installed on your device will have a lot more access to your phone and data than just browsing a web page.
  • It’s also crucial to understand the permissions granted to every app you download. Both Android and Apple users will be familiar with the permissions popups that new apps often flash upon being run for the first time – they include like asking for permission to access contacts, the camera, and your phone’s location.

The Importance of Updates

Just like on PCs, it’s important to keep a phone’s operating system and installed apps up-to-date with the latest security fixes – they could save you in the long run. All phone platforms check for updates periodically and are configured by default and prompt you before installing intrusive updates.

Say No to Jailbreaking

Most smartphones have built-in restrictions that lock down low-level system settings and key apps so that even the phone’s owner can’t change them. For example, your iPhone isn’t going to let you uninstall Safari.

  • With a process called jailbreaking the phone’s owner is able to get around those restrictions and gain access to make all types of changes.
  • The problem with this is that jailbreaking often nullifies many of a phone’s built-in security features. Some of the programs that are used to perform the jailbreaking process are disreputable themselves and will load malware directly on the phone during the process.

Keeping your business protected doesn’t have to be a constant struggle – reach out to Integris to discuss the most effective forms of protection against online threats. Our team of technology professionals are eager to help provide the strategies, services, and guidance you need to gain peace of mind: contact us at [email protected] or (888) 330-8808.

We're Integris. We're always working to empower people through technology.

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