It may already be invading your mobile device

Mobile phones and tablets are great devices. They are one of the marvels of surviving social and academic communication. The Android platform that runs these mobile tools are lower cost and much more customizable than their Apple and Windows counterparts.

But Android phones and tablets are much more vulnerable to malware and virus infection. Why should you care? If your device gets infected, you will probably never know it until your bank account or personal information is compromised.

According to a recent report by G Data SecurityLabs, information stored on Android smartphones and tablets are susceptible to almost 4,900 new malware files daily. If you think that number is scary, think again.

A growing interest in breaching the Android operating system is attracting more cybercriminals. That only means one thing: you must be more aware of safe mobile use if you want to survive. G Data Security Labs warns that more than two million new Android malware strains are likely to surface this year.

Damaging Ignorance

Malware refers to a wide variety of hostile software that invades your computer and mobile devices. Some may just sniff out your personal details like bank accounts and passwords. Other malware can do far more damaging things.

Malware includes computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, adware and scareware. It can take the form of executable code, scripts, active content and other software.

Your devices catch malware when infecting code is hidden in attached documents you unknowingly download. It hides in websites you visit. Cybercriminals sneak it into Android apps that you download from unprotected app stores.

Why do cybercriminals attack your Android and other devices? That has a very easy answer: that is where the money is.

At least 41% of consumers in Europe and 50% in the US use a mobile device to do their banking transactions. Also, 78% of Internet users make purchases on line, according to the G Data report and numerous other studies.

Android Catching Up

The mobile security landscape is rapidly changing. A few years ago, Android was more obscure with only a small percentage of users compared to other product options.

Now, the Android operating system is overtaking Apple and Windows phones and tablets. Cybercriminals are getting much smarter about sneaking into the Android platform.

“The functionality of this latest generation of Android malware is pretty sophisticated, since they are effectively using privilege escalation techniques to gain root and not only digging in to avoid uninstallation, but also to spread to other devices via the rooted phone’s contact information,” said Tod Beardsley, Principal Security Research Manager Rapid at Rapid7.

In other words, Android malware is quickly matching feature sets common to more traditional Windows-based malware.

Dangerous Stuff

A recent report by Fidelis Cybersecurity warns of the dangers of one of the newest and deadliest malware infections called the JSocket Remote Access Tool or RAT. This handy hacker tool can let cybercriminals control Apple and Android mobile devices.

Here is what it does:

  • Uses the GPS embedded in the phone to track the user and to use the camera and microphone to spy on the user
  • Allows the operator to infect an existing Android application to place a backdoor on the victim’s phone without affecting the functionality of the host application
  • Gains complete remote control to monitor webcams and microphones
  • Uses infected attachments that are phony invoices, purchase orders and other financial-related documents as a lure

Tips for Safer Mobile Use

To protect against JSocket attacks, take these precautions:

  • Do not “root” your phone, because it removes some basic built-in protections.
  • Do not install applications outside of the Google Play store; uncheck the security setting “allow installation of non-market applications.”
  • Examine what permissions a mobile application attempts to gain upon installation to avoid the common tactic of requesting all available permissions.