How to save yourself from Android malware


The growth of Android usage has pulled in hackers who are finding new ways to attack the widening user pool
Diksha Gupta, TechGig.com
According to a recent report from Trend Micro, Android malware has doubled from 2014 to 2015. 
Needless to say, mobile devices continued being hotbeds for cybercriminals looking to exploit security flaws. If not controlled, Android malware can reach an all-new level and impact other smart technologies as well. 
As per the findings of various researches and surveys, it is projected that by 2017, almost one third of the world will own mobile devices, of which Android phones will take the lion's share. 
However, this growth comes with associated threats. The growth of Android usage has managed to garner a lot of attention of hackers who are now honing their hacking skills and finding new ways to attack into the vast and widening pool of potential victims. 
TechGig.com spoke to Nilesh Jain, country manager-India and SAARC, Trend Micro, about the increasing threats on Android and how to avoid them.
Listing the most popular threats, Nilesh shares, "Of all the threats, mobile malware is the top most, which is thriving and constantly evolving. With 97 per cent of malware threat occurring on Android devices, premium-rate SMS fraud is main type of malware affecting people worldwide. Threats piggybacked on the robust Android growth and vulnerability, spamming and phishing have now shifted away from emails to social media. Another vulnerability identified is Android debugger. Debuggered vulnerability can be utilised to expose a device's memory content. Furthermore, Android Installer hijacking vulnerability gives hackers the ability to replace legitimate apps with malicious versions in order to steal information from the user."
The report released by the company stated that the mobile malware growth will be seen most in China. In addition, mobile payment methods will be attacked globally. Most of the malicious mobile apps are being developed and used in China. After China, India is the second most affected nation with Android malware. India has one of the biggest smartphone user bases, which makes it an easy target for mobile hackers. Furthermore, China, India and Indonesia are three most severely afflicted countries. The cause of this can also be attributed to the fact that people in these countries have started using mobile payments, which attracts online criminals to conduct their businesses on mobile phones. 
Precautions you can take...
Sharing the simplest possible tricks that users can follow to save from themselves from Android malware, Nilesh said, "The increasing number of attacks on Android can also be blamed on the lack of knowledge among the users apart from the shrewdness of the hackers. If the users today consider a few basic security procedures or hacks and stay a little more alert, Android malware attacks can be controlled. The foremost of them is to avoid installing apps from unknown sources. It is advisable to download apps from reputable app stores like Google Play etc. Thirdly, every Android phone has a security feature that allows the users to lock apps outside Google Play. Activating this feature warns the users about any app trying to install which is not in Google Play."
Are anti-viruses useful?
The answer is a yes and a no. Anti-viruses, if not of good quality, can be of less use. Experts have clarified on several occasions that Apple iTunes and Google Play are not immune to hosting malicious apps on their stores. So users should consider installing a mobile security app on their devices as it can protect users from bad apps that sometimes get through. 
Nilesh says, "The threat to these users today are phishing sites which may be delivered via emails, which have a malicious link embedded within the email or found on browsed sites. These phishing sites request information from the user via the webpage (ex. Login credentials, CC numbers, etc.) and if a user fills them out, the data is sent to the hacker. These phishing pages don't care what browser the user is accessing. So the best protection is a mobile security app that includes web reputation which can block access to these malicious sites. These anti-viruses can help secure a mobile device better as cybercriminals come up with more complex ways to attack mobile devices; more so because no coding is required to bind Android apps with malicious programmes."
He also emphasised that although the number of breach through Android device is on the rise, the phenomenon is still at a nascent stage. Therefore not many people are paying attention to the importance of securing their mobile devices. 
Nilesh said, "Despite the fact that more than half of the total mobile using population store their personal details and other sensitive information online through their mobile devices, very few take basic precautions like using passwords, installing security software or backing up the mobile devices. As mentioned earlier, anti-viruses for mobile phones are available in the market but very few have it or are aware of it. It seems like the mobile security awareness is on decline, but the number of people using mobile devices is growing."
As they say, it's better to be safe than sorry. So, investing in a good anti-virus is not such a bad idea in this bad world of malware. 
diksha.gupta@timesgroup.com
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