The more people use smartphones, the bigger amount of various apps they install to manage their daily tasks or spend leisure time. However, not all apps are developed by trustworthy developers and can pose a threat to users. There are several basic steps to follow in order to protect your device and data.
Techniques that hackers use to get into the end user’s device are getting more and more sophisticated. This means that even though the end-user is as vigilant as possible, sometimes it is nearly impossible not to succumb to hackers’ social engineering tricks. Of course, malware is always installed unintentionally.
Malware Camouflage? A Common Trick of Hackers.
There are many apps that look like popular legit apps, but in fact, they are dangerous. Malicious apps often hide behind the names such as Google Chrome, Spotify, YouTube, Google Play Services, Update Manager, or Google Play Protect to trick the user.
Using the name of a well-known app is a surprisingly effective tactic. Suppose a user installs the legitimate YouTube app developed by Google. Later on, the user is tricked into installing a malicious YouTube developed by a hacker. When the user gets notified by an antivirus app about a potentially dangerous app called YouTube, he/she does not pay much attention to it. The alert looks like an antivirus bug: “YouTube is developed by Google which means it is safe, right?” And this is how the hacker wins.
Recognizing Malicious Apps Can Be Hard, Removing Even Harder
It is quite easy to download mobile malware by an accident. Even if the user eventually recognizes the malware app, it might be very difficult to remove it. Of course, it is sometimes possible to uninstall dangerous apps — they are visible on the device and can be deleted just like any other app. In most cases, however, malicious apps actively prevent their uninstallation.
Malware often plays hide and seek on the end user’s device and it is nearly impossible for a common user to find them. These apps are unnamed or without an icon which makes them very difficult to find. Some of them hide their icons right after being launched. These hidden apps are not visible in the list of apps and can be found only in system settings.
Other malicious apps can even proactively disrupt the process of uninstallation, or prevent deactivation of the malicious features. They keep closing the window with app details, the uninstall dialog, or the dialog confirming the settings change.
Minimize the Risk of Downloading a Malicious App
There are a few rules every smartphone user can follow in order to significantly reduce the risk of being manipulated into downloading a malicious app instead of the trustworthy one.
- First of all, download apps only from reliable sources — Google Play for Android and App Store for iOS. While there can occasionally occur malware on Google Play as well, you significantly increase your chances of staying safe.
- Even an app listed in trustworthy app stores can be malicious or become malicious with an update. For this reason, it is of the utmost importance to check what developer it comes from and make sure the developer is well-known, trusted, and active in maintaining the app.
- Be vigilant the moment an app asks for permissions. Consider which of them are truly necessary for its full functionality. If you think that some of the permissions are fishy, do not give them.
- Read the comments and ratings of other users who already installed the app and shared their experience with it in the application stores.
To sum up, take a minute and a deep breath when installing an app, read ratings, and think about possible required permissions.
Stay Safe From Banking Malware
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