Can your smartphone get malware? It sure can. Malware can find its way onto your phone from many sources, like scam emails and texts, malicious websites, pop-up ads, and questionable downloads. You can even accidentally download malware from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. Malware poses a big threat to smartphone users, especially because these devices contain so much of our personal information.
How can you protect your mobile phone from malware? You have to be careful what links you click and what apps you install. Don’t be fooled by spam texts and emails. Keep your phone’s operating system (OS) up to date. Be careful with public wifi – and use a VPN if possible, and install mobile antivirus software. Always use strong passwords for all your accounts, and turn on two-factor authentication if possible.
Take Care When Installing Apps
You should only install apps from Google Play Store or Apple App Store, unless you really trust the third-party developer. Even then, you should be careful. As mentioned, malware has been found in both app stores. Read reviews before installing an app, and pay attention to what permissions it asks for when you install it. If it’s asking for permissions that don’t seem to have much to do with its actual function, that’s a red flag.
Ignore Spam Texts and Emails
Criminals use spam texts and emails to try and steal your personal information or install malware on your device that will allow the scammer to continue making a profit off of you in some way – maybe by passing the malware around to those on your contacts list, or stealing your banking information, or turning your device into a cryptominer.
A popular way that scammers spread malware is via a link disseminated in a text message, so be careful about clicking on links in texts to download apps. You should also be cautious about downloading email attachments or clicking on links in emails, especially those “there’s a problem with your account” emails. If you get a scary email about one of your accounts, verify your account is okay by opening up a browser window and typing in the URL yourself, rather than following the link in the email, which will take you to a mirror site set up to steal your information.
Install Software Updates Whenever They’re Available
OS updates include fixes and patches for security issues that have been discovered since the last update. Hackers are constantly developing new malicious software and new strategies. Developers are constantly working to fix the vulnerabilities that make new malware effective. Installing an update might be a pain, but you need those patches for maximum security.
Stay Off Public Wifi
Public wifi isn’t as secure as your connection at home because anyone who comes along can connect to it, and if you know what you’re doing, you can watch everything a person does when connected to public wifi. If you must use public wifi, make sure you’re really using the network affiliated with the public place you’re in – hackers will make spoof networks that seem like they should be for the airport or the coffee shop or wherever you are, just so they can spy on your traffic and hack into your device. You should also think twice before doing any banking or shopping on public wifi networks.
Use a VPN
A virtual private network, or VPN, creates a private, encrypted tunnel for your internet activity to pass through, so that no one can see what you’re doing online. It’s the right choice to protect your privacy, especially when using public networks.
Protect Your Device with a Mobile Antivirus Program
You can’t always be vigilant against every phishing email or weird text or malicious app. There are going to be times when you accidentally download something you shouldn’t, or fall for a phishing email, or even accidentally visit a malicious website – you can’t know they’re malicious until you navigate to them, right? You need to buy mobile antivirus software to protect your device, just like you would protect a laptop or desktop computer.
Create Strong Passwords
You should use a unique password for each of your online accounts. Each password should be 16 to 20 characters long, and should consist of numbers, letters, and special characters. Use a password manager to generate and store your complex passwords for optimum security.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication (2FA), also known as multi-factor authentication (MFA), adds a second layer to your account security. With 2FA enabled, you will have to prove your identity using a secondary method in order to access your account. Usually, that means getting a code texted to your smartphone or using an authenticator app. It means that crooks can’t get into your account with your password alone, and you’ll get a verification message to tip you off to an attempt to crack your account.
Is your phone safe from malware? Probably not. But you can take steps to secure it – and protect your data from cybercriminals. Install a mobile antivirus program now.