Warning: 500% increase in mobile malware. (Here’s what you need to know)

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Warning: 500% increase in mobile malware. (Here’s what you need to know)

What is the one thing you notice when you get on a tram, walk down Bourke Street Mall or sit in a cafe?

Everyone has their heads down, with a little glow on their face from their mobile phones. 

Next time you walk down the street to get lunch or a flat white, count how many people you pass with engrossed in the long scroll.

It shouldn’t surprise you.

Or will it?

Either way, internet traffic from mobile phones outpace desktop computers in Australia.

So, you would think more people would be concerned about protecting their devices against cyber attacks.

Alarmingly, cyber security researchers discovered that mobile malware attacks surged by 500% in the first few months of 2022. The success of these attacks is profoundly concerning, as many people don’t actively protect their smartphones. 

You know, smartphones have become increasingly more powerful over the last decade. For many people, they are like their own personal computers in their hands. 

But people seem more concerned about cyber attacks on their computers than their smartphones. 

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that cyber security for mobile phones is critical to guard against malware attacks and fraud. 

Over 60% of digital fraud now occurs through mobile devices.

The good news is that many security protections you can use are the same as you’d be familiar with for your computer. Now is the best time to start thinking of your mobile device as not just a phone but a computer. 

7 quick and easy tips to improve smartphone security

1. Use Mobile Anti-malware

You should install a reliable mobile anti-malware application to protect you. However, a word of caution, be aware of some free security apps. These apps themselves often contain harmful malware and are designed to trick you into thinking you have installed anti-malware protection. But in fact, it’s a clever rouse by cyber crooks. 

2. Never download apps from unknown sources 

Only download apps from trusted sources like Apple’s AppStore, Google Play, Amazon Appstore or the Microsoft Store. 

You can take extra precautions to research and verify the developer online independently. Consider it by doing your due diligence and confirming they have a good reputation. 

It’s critical to know that if you do download an app from an unknown source and it infects your device, deleting the app won’t solve the problem. The malware can remain behind on the device even if the app is removed.

3. You shouldn’t assume every email is safe

If you’re like us, you find it easier to check, read and delete your emails on your mobile phone. And it’s easy to forget that an email on your mobile is the same as checking it on your laptop or PC. It would be a mistake to think it’s safer on your mobile. Instead, it would be best if you had the same level of awareness around security as you would on your PC. 

A word of warning, it is more difficult to hover over a link on your phone. 

Whereas on a computer, you can identify if the link looks suspicious. So, open the email and review the link on your computer if in doubt. 

4. Beware of SMS phishing (aka “Smishing”)

Sometimes referred to as ‘smishing‘, SMS phishing has risen dramatically by 30%. As a result, SMS phishing has overtaken robocalls as hackers’ preferred method. 

Smishing is the text version of phishing where it contains malicious links. A hacker can breach your device if you click the link. Usually, the SMS asks you to text back personal information.

Keep an eye out for text messages that appear legitimate. 

For example, you may be receiving a parcel from Australia Post. And by chance, hackers send you an SMS asking you to update your details for delivery. And the truth is, they look very legitimate. So it’s always best to check directly on the Australia Post website or app.

It’s anticipated smishing will continue to grow, so taking the extra step to read and verify the contents of the SMS before acting is essential to staying safe. 

5. Delete Apps you no longer need

2.6 million apps last had an update a year ago. But, surprisingly, developers often leave apps abandoned and no longer update them, exposing you to security vulnerabilities on your mobile device. And hackers seek out these types of security vulnerabilities to exploit.

If you don’t do anything about it, you risk your device being hacked.

Review your device and apps you no longer use. For example, go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage on iPhone.

Then delete any application you no longer want or use. If you think you might need the app in the future, visit the App Store to confirm the most recent version and update. If the last update by the developer was over a year, then you’re potentially at risk, and it’s worth considering deleting the app. 

6. Ensure your mobile device OS is updated 

When was the last time you checked which version of Android or iOS your device is using? Does it automatically update? Or do you need to download the update manually? 

You must regularly update your mobile devices to avoid exposing yourself to security vulnerabilities.

If your business or company has several devices, it’s a great idea to ensure they are included in your managed IT services plan. 

(P.S. Intuitive IT can help you manage your mobile devices the same we manage your computers. Ask us how)

7. VPN helps you stay safe on public WiFi

Like many people, you connect to public WiFi throughout Melbourne at the shopping centre, hotel or the ‘G. But public WiFi has its risk. You may be concerned about the data limit on your mobile phone plan, or you’re not in the 5G/4G area, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cautious.

You can stay safe with a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN is an application that provides a barrier between your device and the internet. It routes your data through a secure, private server. And allowing you to use public WiFi, reducing the risk of potential hacking. 

How secure are your mobile devices?

We understand. It’s probably something you’ve yet to think much about, as your IT networks. But critically, with more and more work done remotely and on mobile devices, you need to guard against cyber threats. So let us help you review your mobile device security by scheduling a call today.

About the author

Yener is the founder and Managing Director of Intuitive IT. Prior to running his own business Yener worked for a number of corporate organisations where he gained invaluable experience and skills, as well as an understanding of how IT can complement and improve business outcomes.