A smartphone is one of those items labelled as a daily essential to many of us. However, with the increasing number of scams and sophisticated attacks lurking within operating systems, we all need to be on high alert to keep our devices secure. There are many preventive measures we can take to divert away from anything suspicious. But first, let’s take a look at what Malware on mobile is and how to prevent it!
What is Malware?
Unlike those pesky malware on your computer which forces pop up ads in your browsers, malware on phones is much more ‘behind-the-scenes’. Most of the time, people don’t even realize that they have such a thing on their phones. Often a malicious software may be hidden as a legitimate app that seems totally normal, but it can be running in the background stealing your private information or even, unbeknownst to you, turning on your camera and microphone!
Here are a few ways to stay safe and prevent malware on your phone:
1. Download OFFICIAL apps only
Nowadays you can download apps or APKs, short for Android Package Kit, from non-official app stores. And odds are, if it’s not from the official app store, it means the app itself has not been vetted through and could possibly contain malicious content.
By default, phones have the setting that enables users to download from unknown sources turned off. But say you’re trying to download an app that isn’t available in your country, you should always download from sites which are verified and approved. Some third party apps are seemingly legit. Therefore, always check the app’s descriptions, the layout, the look of the site and the type of ads it shows before downloading them.
Read up <here> to know more about the risks of third-party apps.
2. Download from OFFICIAL app stores
If there are such things as unofficial apps, then there are such things as unofficial app stores. With the exception of official brands like Amazon’s app store, almost all of the unofficial app stores out there are not vetted. Downloading unofficial app stores may introduce malware risks into your device. The risk may result in more apps being installed without your consent, thus starting an endless cycle of ‘malware installation’ on your phone.
When installing a new app store, be wary of anything that looks out of place or anything that’s amiss. Check the permission you’re granting the app, read the description and check whether the developer’s account is official and vetted. See below an example of a third-party app store:
3. Download OFFICIAL apps on OFFICIAL app stores
Even with all that’s said above, we also need to be careful when downloading app stores. There have been reports of fake listings of real app stores. Good news is that Google and Apple are actively taking steps to reduce these issues, but a little reading can help determine whether it’s a real app or something suspicious.
Check out the list of malicious apps you should avoid downloading on your phone here
4. Update your smartphones
Is your smartphone’s operating system up to date? One of the many reasons to do so is because the latest operating systems include critical patches to security holes. In fact, many of the more harmful malware attacks have the ability to take advantage of vulnerable operating systems. It may take up some storage space, but the safety features that come with it will ensure an improved experience in the long run and will keep you protected against these malware attacks.
Even with safety precautions, malware can still manage to tunnel through and affect your smartphones. If you’ve already downloaded an unofficial app or app store or your smartphone has been affected, follow these steps to remove the malware:
APPLE PHONES -
1. Clear history and data
If you’re experience any pop-ups or “Error” messages, it’s most likely from the cookies you’ve allowed while browsing online, and these are the ones that aren’t filled with chocolate chip. Heh.
Head to your ‘Settings’ and find the Safari tab. Then tap on ‘Clear History and Website Data”.
2. Power off and restart your iPhone
Yes, we’re actually suggesting this. Sometimes the best medicine is to just power off your phone and restart it so that it can reboot its systems. Hold your iPhone’s power button down and slide the screen button to turn it off.
3. Restore from an earlier backup
If the method above doesn’t work, try restoring your phone from an earlier backup. Those annoying reminder messages asking you to “back up your phone” aren’t that annoying now are they?
For more information on how to restore backup, click here
4. Reset and restore as a new device
If all else fails, then you can completely wipe your phone and reset your device. Head to ‘Settings’, the ‘General’ tab. There should be a ‘Reset’ button before your phone asks you if you want to ‘Erase All Content’.
Click here for the full step-by-step guide.
ANDROID PHONES -
1. Run a phone virus scan
Google Play has plenty of anti-virus applications that help protect and clean your phones. And most of them have features to help scan and detect your phone for any anomalies, thus eliminating any suspicious software and programs.
Here's a quick guide on how to run a virus scan on your Android phone
2. Manually uninstall malicious apps
Like normal Windows computers, Android phones have a safe mode feature that when activated, turns off access to all third-party apps to stop them from running. If phone issues like high memory usage, random adware pop-ups and overheating suddenly goes away, then you know that a malware program is to blame.
Once in safe mode, you can head to your settings and check out your list of downloaded or installed apps. Look for any applications that you don’t remember downloading or that shouldn’t be running on your phone, and uninstall them.
Here’s a guide on how to uninstall the malicious apps onAndroid
Prevention is always better than cure, check out our reported scams here and if you’ve encountered any malicious software, please do not hesitate to report the issue.
To learn more about how to protect yourself against malware on desktop, click here.