Droid in danger: Most alarming security threats for Android users

Posted: February 24, 2016 in Articles
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Most alarming security threats for Android usersCell-phone, especially smart-phone, has become a vital part of our lives and we can’t seem to even start our day without it.

The digital era that we live in today demands us to stay on the go and hence smart-phones have become an essential extension of our ‘self’. Where the worldwide sales and usage of smart-phone have skyrocketed, the threat of cyber crime and malware has also increased drastically. With our private information not so private, we are exposed to a number of security risks and hacking.

Fake apps, malicious software updates, nasty MMSs and tempting games are some of the common ways to trap Android users. By taking some precautionary measures, the threat of cyber exploitation can be minimized.

Most common Android security threats

There are a number of ways cyber criminals use to prompt users to fall for their offerings. Cyber crime is a wide field that taps on various principles of art, science and technology including human’s psychology. Reported by Google, there are a number of apps that are no longer available on Google Play Store as they were suspected to be malicious. Let’s discover some of the common Android security threats that we are presented with today.

New Android Malware per 2015 year

New Android Malware Samples (per year). Source: G DATA Software AG

 

1. Dubious Apps

We adore apps, hands down. Everyone is hooked to their favorite apps for one obvious reason: they are fun! Where some apps provide entertainment, ease and save time; others dig deep in your data and expose your phone and operating system to a variety of threats. Bogus and malicious apps are most likely to use your private information and then abuse it for different purposes. Personal data such as email address, phone number and contact details can be uploaded to a remote server without the user’s knowledge and consent. Although Google has reassured the existence of such apps on its Play Store but they are still present on unofficial app stores.

2. Pop-up ads

We all know they are annoying. You are often bombarded by a number of pop-ups that suddenly appear and ask you to take a particular action (usually they demand a click) while you are running a useful app. On clicking, these ads land you to fake pages and questionable app stores. Once you land on those sources, you are most likely to become a victim of cyber crime. The best possible way to stay away from such cons is to not click on any pop-up.

3. Fake Web Browsers

Although Chrome by Google is a widely popular web browser but there are numerous others that have flooded the cyber space. Fake web browsers usually contain Trojan SMS that signs up for various premium services on the user’s behalf without their permission. FakeDolphin is one such browser that spoofs the original Dolphin browser and boldly exploits its users. Browsers that promise better speed and surfing should be downloaded with caution as they might prove to be weapons of cyber crime.

Top 20 malicious mobile programs

Top 20 malicious mobile programs. Source: Kaspersky Lab

 

4. Android Texts

Yes, cyber criminals can make you a victim through SMS or MMS. The malicious code can be automatically installed in your phone through a text or website, making your device vulnerable to hacking. The attacker can send the message directly to victim’s number; once opened, the message would execute the hidden malware. Surprisingly, the victim would not have any idea that they have been attacked unless they have installed a strong security system in their phone.

5. Embedded Links

These are vicious. Legitimate sources can also become their victims and they can impose and great security threat to the users. Ever heard of Facebook Porn? The virus managed to make its way to THE most popular social media channel and victimized millions of users. The malware is enabled through tagging and once opened, the link provides the users with a preview of porn video. The catch? It attempts them to download a false flash player to be able to watch the whole clip and on doing so, the malware takes care of the rest of the security damage.

The geography of mobile threats

The geography of mobile threats by number of attacked users, 2015. Source: Kaspersky Lab

 

How can you avoid them?

Being a victim of the cyber crime in the highly vulnerable digital space is not surprising. However, there are some ways that can help you secure your data, system and device.

– Install a good security and anti-virus system in your phone. One of the Android’s anti-virus solution providers, Avast can come in handy. Installing an anti-virus app is the first step of securing your phone against spyware and malware.
– Only go for authentic and highly rated apps on the Play Store. Read app reviews and check its ranking before you hit “install”.
– Avoid “Sideloading”. Sideloading means downloading and installing an app from outside the phone’s app store. Only use Google Play Store to install apps rather than accessing an outside app store as they might be loaded with malicious apps.

Conclusion

In the ever-evolving digital space, cyber crime is an ongoing concern. Android is presented with a series of security threats and its users are more concerned than ever before. Among other cyber crime channels, fake apps, web browsers, texts, MMSs and embedded links are most common. The risk of being a cyber crime victim can be minimized with vigilance and caution that are two of the prerequisites of a safe smart-phone usage.


Author bioAbout the Author

Sani is Managing Director of VeztekUSA a well known Web and Mobile App Development Company based in Los Angeles, California. He always stay up to date with latest trends in Mobile App Development and loves contributing on different technology Blog. Follow him on twitter @VezTekUSA

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