How to Protect Your Phone from Viruses and Malware in 3 Easy Steps

Today’s smartphones hold more personal data than any other electronic device, including computers. From online banking to personal emails, the information we store is not only critical to our daily routines, but also extremely sensitive. Unfortunately, it seems the more we store, the more our devices are at risk.

In the first half of 2013, 51,000 new mobile malware threats were identified as having infected an estimated 21 million mobile devices throughout the world. While China was the leading market for infected devices, nearly 1.5 million were in the U.S.

In the first half of 2013, 51,000 new mobile malware threats were identified as having infected an estimated 21 million mobile devices throughout the world. While China was the leading market for infected devices, nearly 1.5 million were in the U.S.

  • Smishing – A combination of phishing and SMS messaging in the form of a text with a malicious link. Clicking the link triggers an app download or directs the consumer to a rogue website. One of the most efficient and lucrative viruses automatically downloads Premium Rate Service (PRS) images resulting in unexpected charges.
  • Malicious URLs - Websites that gather personal information while users browse on mobile devices. These are particularly risky for mobile banking usage. Malware developers, taking advantage of hard-to-see or hidden mobile web URLs, redirect users from a genuine website to a clone where the browser initiates actions such as entering a username and password, downloading fake security updates, or requesting the mobile number to then send an infected link.
  • App Repackaging - A genuine app altered with lines of malicious code by cybercriminals and then repackaged and reloaded to a third-party marketplace for unsuspecting mobile users to download and install. Once installed, the app works in the background to collect user data, change user settings, or remotely control the device to send text messages

Just avoiding suspicious links or closely inspecting mobile sites isn’t enough. Computer scientists at Georgia Tech recently illustrated cell phone vulnerability by building a small device that’s easily implanted into a public charging station and attacks plugged-in phones. Costing less than $50 to assemble, the tiny computer was strong enough to infect even iPhones with a virus.

But the news isn’t all bad. With the right security measures, you can protect your phone from even the most malicious threats. Safeguard your personal data by following these 3 easy steps:

1. Install Anti-Virus Software: The most important and effective measure in preventing a data breach is choosing the right security app that will protect your device from virtually any digital threat. For example, in addition to protecting against malware, spyware and hackers, the McAfee Mobile Security app secures the personal and financial data on your phone, eliminates phishing when browsing the web, and optimizes your phone to run at peak speed. The program even backs up your data and, if necessary, restores your contacts. Bundled with Brightstar Device Protection’s insurance or service warranty program, subscribers have the peace of mind that their phones are completely covered – from damage to data.

2. Download Apps from Only Trusted Sources: Stick to reputable sites like Google Play and the iTunes App Store. Before downloading anything, carefully read all of the reviews and look at the ratings. As a rule of thumb, consider installing only apps that have at least 3 stars and a decent number of reviews. And before you quickly click through and accept, carefully read through the permissions the app is requesting. If it seems like the app is asking for too much personal information that doesn’t really pertain to its purpose, then it’s most likely not worth the risk.

3. Lock Your Phone with a Passcode: A lost or stolen phone can be every bit as dangerous as a malicious link when it’s fallen into the wrong hands. Protect your data from nefarious criminals by setting a password only you will know. And if all else fails, use the anti-theft security features included in your security software. Brightstar Device Protection’s McAfee bundled protection program allows you to remotely locate, lock and wipe your device when your phone goes permanently missing, and even covers the cost of a replacement device.

With so much important information being tracked on our wireless devices, data protection is critical. Today’s smartphones – tiny computers complete with operating systems, storage and wireless access to companies’ internal networks – will always be a target for hackers and criminals. Fortunately, with security software, danger is averted, phones remain healthy, and frustration can be avoided.