Mobile malware is on the rise. With more people using cell phones to make online purchases in their business and personal lives, hackers are paying more attention to cell phones and other devices to try to steal credit card and other personal data.
According to a BBC report earlier this month, advertisements on websites are now the biggest source of malware on mobile phones – one in five mobile malware downloads are via an online ad.
The BBC article also cites Cisco's 2014 Annual Security Report which found that when mobile malware is intended to compromise a device, it is nearly always targeted at Android devices, “but when mobile malware is not specifically designed to target certain types of devices, then 70% of the attacks were experienced by Android devices and 14% by Apple iPhone users.”
Blocking web ads on your mobile devices is just one way to protect yourself from attack; ad-blocking apps exist for both Android and Apple devices and browser settings can be adjusted to prevent ad pop-ups.
A short video from The Washington Post's Hayley Tsukayama provides additional tips for keeping your mobile phone safe. While she doesn’t address the threat of web ads for transmitting mobile malware, she does list several other threats to try to avoid. A few good points from her report:
- When making a purchase using your cell phone, be aware that the security protocols don't quite adhere to the same standards on mobile websites as the desktop versions, leaving them more vulnerable to hackers and malware
- Verify the mobile app you are downloading is legitimate, this is a common way hackers get into your mobile device (and they are very good at making apps that look like famous, legitimate apps)
- Never click on a link in a text from someone you do not know
While mobile malware currently accounts for only 1% of all malware attacks, it is an emerging trend and worth noting. Taking a few simple precautions may help you avoid becoming a victim of a mobile malware attack.