- There is an increase in the incidence of cyber security attacks against smartphone users in recent times.
- These attacks are via infectious malware links being sent via text messages or emails that give hackers complete access to a user’s personal information.
- There are several troubleshooting and protective measures which can help users in guarding themselves against such cyber security attacks.
In the current era, man can never be devoid of a smartphone. With nearly 84% of the world’s population now owning a smartphone, our dependence on these electronics is growing at an all-time high. Thus, it’s no surprise that these indispensable devices have become an attractive avenue for scammers. It was recently reported that nearly 3.5 million phone users became victims of malicious attacks by cyber scammers.
How does a phone get infected?
The most common method by which most users fell victim to cyber security attacks was by clicking on malicious links sent on the user’s phone via spam messages. These spam messages are sent both on text messages as well as email. These links activate the installation of a virus which can be defined as malware or infectious software. According to a report by Zimperium, a private firm, more than one-fifth of mobile devices have encountered malware at a certain point. Four in ten mobiles worldwide remain potentially vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
A very common example of such infectious malware is the Hummingbird virus. This virus is credited with infecting around ten million Android devices within a span of a few months since its creation in 2016. This virus acts via a malicious code that infects the device, then replicates itself and further spreads to other devices via auto messaging to text messages and emails of every other contact saved on the person’s phone.
Another example is that of the Flubot virus which targeted major countries such as Australia, Germany, Poland, Spain, Austria, and other European countries. This virus acts by installing a malicious app on an infected phone, giving scammers full access to a user’s information. Thus this malware mostly works by giving hackers complete access to the personal information of a user. The hackers can spy on a user by capturing the user’s screen and keyboard inputs as well thereby vastly reducing a phone’s functioning.
Which is more secure, phone or computer?
In general terms, Apple offers more security than Android. However, there are certain users who use the “jailbreak” feature to modify their phones and in turn, make them more vulnerable to cyber security attacks. Also, some Android users tend to install apps via Apks instead of downloading them from the Google Playstore. Such users also risk phone infection via malware.
In the same tune, phones are compared to have better protection than personal computers. The apps on phones are “sandboxed”, that is they’re isolated in their own environment which offers protection against new infection by malware and also cross-infection via other malware.
Danger Signs of an infected phone
Although hackers are getting craftier and making malware which is very difficult to track till it has done some serious damage, there can be some abnormal behavior that can be noted in infected phones. Some danger signs to watch out for include:
- apps taking longer than usual to open, or crashing randomly
- excessive battery drain
- increased mobile data consumption
- unusual pop-up ads
- unexpected heating up of the device
If such signs are noted, the user must immediately set into action and perform some essential troubleshooting steps to keep the phone from further damage by the infectious malware.
How to troubleshoot and protect a phone from infection
The following steps can be performed to protect a phone from infection:
- Use a reliable antivirus app to scan your phone for infections. Some protection services include McAfee and Norton.
- Clear your phone’s storage and cache
- Delete any suspicious or unfamiliar apps
- As a last resort, you can back up all your data and perform a factory reset on your phone. Resetting a phone to its original settings will eliminate any malware.
- Avoid clicking unusual pop-ups, or links in unusual text messages, social media posts, or emails
- Only install apps from authorized app stores, such as Google Play or Apple’s App Store
- Check app permissions before installing, so you’re aware of what the app will access.
- Back up your phone’s data regularly
If a user follows such steps religiously and trusts their gut instincts, surely one can protect oneself from unwanted infectious malware attacks.