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Types of Mobile Malware & How to Defend Against Them

Malware has a long history of undermining computer security and stealing critical data. With the rapid growth of mobile usage, we’re now seeing a new breed of mobile malware infecting smartphones and tablets. The new-age mobile malware are more advanced, seamless, and destructive. In 2021 alone Kaspersky identified 3,464,756 malicious installation packages all over the globe. 

If you’re also worried about malware attacks on your mobile devices, here’s everything you must know about the different types of mobile malware and how you can protect yourself against them. 

Madware 

Mobile advertising depends on each view, click, and installation to generate revenue. In recent years the advertisement model has evolved to an extent that criminals are using ads to push malware. Intrusive mobile adware (madware) force you to click on ad banners by modifying ad placements and making screens unresponsive. They also demand a lot more processing power from your phone. 

Once they manage to reach the root folder of your device, they can install any program they want and also open up your device to more security attacks. It’s important to stay away from fishy sites that are filled with madware and use caution while clicking or interacting with an unknown page. 

Drive-by downloads 

Drive-by attacks are one of the more powerful malware patterns used by hackers in recent times. In drive-by attacks, malicious files are downloaded on your device almost silently, and in most cases, without your permission.

Drive-by downloads are on the rise in mobiles because users browse websites more freely and are less mindful of malware attacks. The malicious codes are often injected into a compromised website and when a user visits the compromised page, downloads start in the background automatically. In most cases, email attachments, fake content, and ad banners are used to trigger drive-by downloads. Cybercriminals can install all kinds of malware with drive-by attacks and the users don’t even get to know about them. 

Mobile phishing

Phishing is an evergreen trick for hackers and it’s still going strong in 2022. The primary reason why phishing is so successful in compromising devices is that it relies entirely on conviction. If you can make a user believe by mimicking an authentic identity, link, file, or address, they will eventually click. Hackers have taken mobile phishing scams a notch higher in recent times with tricks that even fool IT administrators. 

The only way to prevent phishing attacks from corrupting your device is by being prudent. Always verify email addresses, SMS numbers, and website legitimacy before clicking on them. 

Mobile-specific trojans and viruses

Trojan horses for mobiles work similarly to desktop trojans. They hide within legitimate apps and files and when a user installs them on a device, they are activated. Trojans are used to mine information from smartphones that can be used to attack later. Bank trojans are on the rise as they are used specifically to steal financial information from the phone itself. This type of malware typically masks the login screens to steal data and they’re available for trading at cheap prices. Viruses go one step ahead and start replicating themselves in files and other networked devices. 

Make sure you visit only legitimate websites and put your login details in websites you absolutely trust. Since most mobile malware mimics original websites and apps, you have to be extra cautious while visiting sensitive pages.

Cryptomining 

Cryptomining malware have seen a high year-on-year growth amidst the pandemic. Thanks to the decentralized ledger, cryptocurrencies require huge computing power to operate properly and hackers are using cryptomining malware to steal resources from mobiles and desktops of common users. Most of these malware stay hidden in your device while gradually slowing down the phone and expediting its age. 

Hackers use classic malware deployment practices such as email attachments, links, and corrupted files and new methods such as drive-by cryptomining. 

Steps to protect your mobile from malware

Today’s mobile malware are so persistent that normal victims don’t even know if their devices are compromised. But you can still protect your mobile devices by following some steps:

Don’t jailbreak a phone

Jailbreaking iOS or rooting Android is the method to bypass the manufacturer’s authority over the device and gain full access to it. Users can get root access to a device and tweak it however they want. Jailbreaking is done to make phones more personalized and fun to use but they also completely expose the devices to hackers. 

In the last few years, phone manufacturers have addressed the causes of rooting a device and you can use almost all the features without undermining its security. 

Follow a consistent usage pattern

This is a crucial step to defend your devices from mobile malware. Visit websites that you know are official, and be extra cautious while inserting personal information. Check the spelling of the URL, whether it’s HTTPS compatible, and if it has suspicious ads or loading screens. Do not download files from unauthorized sources and use only the Play Store or App Store to download apps. 

You should be extra careful while checking new websites or applications. If you sense something’s not right, close it immediately. Intuition saves you more than you realize. 

Make changes to device settings 

Apart from being watchful, you should also make some fundamental changes to your device. Make sure you have “downloads from unknown sources” turned off. You can verify this from the settings menu on both Android and iPhone. 

Another thing you can do is use a better browser. Chrome, despite being an overall great option, isn’t the most secure or lightweight one. You can use Safari, Brave, Edge, and Firefox to block JavaScript, rogue ads, and other security loopholes.

Install an antivirus software

Installing security applications is a great way to stay protected from the ever-evolving threat landscape. Security applications such as Malwarebytes, Kaspersky, McAfee, and Norton do a solid job in defending your device from cryptojacking, phishing, and other malware. If you’re worried about the security of your mobile device or have a bring your own device (BYOD) program in your business, we can help! Get in touch with MyTek to see how we’re streamlining mobile security. 

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