You do not need to have an engineering degree to know that there are many companies out there that earn money solely by trying to steal and resell your private information. It’s nothing personal, just business. But it is up to you to stand as the final safeguard between them and your privacy.
iOS has had its share of privacy problems, and on the App Store, you can find some less reputable apps. However, due to how the operating system on an iPhone or iPad works, it’s really difficult (but not impossible) to get malware on your phone that will steal your sensitive information.
Google Play, on the other hand, is plagued with apps that are designed for nothing else than to search your contacts, gather emails, phone numbers, and other info, or just to display a large number of ads. Google has tried to put an end to this, but it is quite a popular way of earning money on Google Play. And, unless they work on how apps are approved on this open platform, it isn’t going anywhere soon.
How Does Malware Work?
Now, we’ve talked about apps, as they are the main vector how malware ends up on your mobile phone. Malware is any software that tries to manipulate you and the operating system into gathering more than it should – personal info, pictures, or even locking down your phone and requesting money to unlock it.
Popular types of malware are:
- Trojans that allow remote code execution on your phone giving someone access to your phone.
- Keyloggers just hand around and log all keystrokes on your phone, including your messages, hoping to get your passwords and hopefully gather your banking info.
- Adware will try to collect everything it can about you, and insert ads everywhere, even on your home screen.
How to Avoid Malware?
The most important advice anyone can give you here is – use your phone carefully. Do not click on strange links when browsing online, do not visit disreputable websites, and do not trust ads that suggest your phone is infected and that you need to click somewhere to clean it. Other stuff you need to have in mind is:
- Check in advance before installing anything
Install only such apps that have a lot of reviews, and even then, check other apps produced by that company. Do not install apps that, for example, offer a few low-quality free wallpapers. If you happen to find yourself installing such a thing (as we all have), make sure to monitor its access. It will ask you about accessing contacts, photos, etc. Deny anything that seems suspicious. After you are done using the app, uninstall it.
- Use a VPN
Virtual private networks are a high-tech solution when it comes to keeping your privacy. It allows you to mask your IP address and hide where you currently are. It will prevent the websites you visit from knowing who you are or where you are coming from. Usually, VPN traffic is encrypted, meaning anything you do while on a VPN is safe. It’s highly recommended to install a VPN software on your Android or iOS device that’s you’re using.
- Be careful with free WiFi
We all like free internet, but a free coffee-shop WiFi might bring a security risk. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the owner of the coffee-shop will spy on you, but someone else on that network might be eavesdropping and trying to find, intercept, and change the traffic your phone is sending to the wireless modem.
This way, if not encrypted, an attacker can find your passwords, implant fake pages, while appearing like a legitimate website.
- Browse with care
As mentioned earlier, a lot of ads will try and disguise themselves as system-generated prompts, asking whether you’d like to clean your system, or telling you that you’ve been hacked. Quite paradoxically, those ads will do exactly what they are suggesting helping you with. Thus, use your brain and don’t click suspicious links.
- Use reputable antivirus
If you think you’ve infected your phone or downloaded something you shouldn’t have; an antivirus can help you remove those files. They are usually quite good at finding settings that expose you to risk, identifying suspicious files, but they can also monitor your internet traffic and keep you safe.