Once it is on your device, hackers can steal sensitive material such as account details, passwords and photos. They can cause your operating system to crash, rendering your device useless. They even can hijack your contacts list and send spam texts to your friends, family and associates. From 2013 to 2014, mobile app malware targeting Android phones rose by 600% globally to more than 650,000 different varieties.
How to protect your devices…
• Get apps only from official websites. The official Apple iOS and Android app stores each offer more than a million apps to choose from. They do an excellent job of scrutinizing new apps and quickly weeding out malicious or infected ones. Nonofficial sites that offer unique apps or free versions of popular paid apps often have low security standards, and some may even be fronts for hacker groups. This is especially true for Android, which is installed on more than half of all mobile devices in the US. Unlike iOS, Android has an “open” operating system—smartphone and tablet manufacturers can alter the software to work on their devices. These altered systems can be more susceptible to hackers.
• Install an antivirus/malware app. The Apple and Android app stores offer Lookout and other antivirus apps for free.