HOW TO: Protect Mobiles from the Menace of Spyware

In light of a new Android Trojan dubbed “Not Compatible” spreading through compromised Websites, it was high time a guide was provided on how users can boost their security against hacking that takes place through spyware and malware. Although the threat of the Trojan seems to be minimal at this point, security provider Lookout says this is the first time hacked Websites are being used to target mobile devices. Android spyware is not a new problem for android users, neither is the mobile spy aspect of their existence.

Further, Lookout believes the new malware could be used to break into private networks via an infected Android device.

mobile trojan software

The Trojan works by automatically downloading an application from a compromised site through the Web browser, a process known as a drive-by download. The mobile device then prompts the user to install the downloaded app. But for the app to actually install, the unknown sources setting must be enabled on the device; otherwise the installation is blocked. It’s a dangerous form of android spyware that needs to be tackled immediately.

So how does one prevent the online invasion of Spyware and Malware. These spyware and malware programs often change browser settings, alter system files and create new default Web pages. Typically, infected systems are plagued with new tool bars and a constant barrage of popup ads. Scores of useless and annoying Web sites can be added to your “favorites” folders without you having selected them!

Typically, malware will also collect personal information from users systems regarding their Web activities, transferring it to advertising and data-research companies. These companies determine the Websites that users frequent and employ the information to tailor the ads they send to individual users. Several malware programs even regularly update their own program codes on infected computers.

Popup and pop under ads are another great nuisance originated by malware, but perhaps most importantly, malware cases computers and phones to perform poorly. Frequently infected machines freeze up often and at times crash. And those trying to spy on a phone can use this version of a mobile spy to get their things done.

The most common way for malware to work its way into a phone or computer is to piggyback on a free program that is downloaded on the Internet. Most users click I agree or I accept without reading the long and complex agreement that expresses consent to place the malware onto their machines.

mobile malware

These days most users have been warned about not clicking into unknown attachments or accepting downloaded programs. Unfortunately, at this point a wrong click is not all you have to be worried about. Many sophisticated malware programs are now employing the so-called drive-by downloads, All you have to do is visit a popular and presumably safe Website, where malware can automatically latch onto your system. Hackers can also find their way into a user’s computer or phone via spyware and malware, wherein the infecting malware allows for the breaking down of security systems and provide access for hackers to various infected devices.

High-speed Internet users are also at great risk for spyware due to the lack of consumer usage of built-in firewalls, the speed at which spyware files can download and because of the always on nature of broadband and 3G and 4G networks. Once downloaded onto a computer or phone, spyware can be difficult to find, uninstall or disable.

So what protections against malware are available? Certainly, the best time to address malware and spyware is before they find their way onto the respective devices. Several emerging technologies and service providers as well as applications assist users with

  1. analyzing network traffic patterns
  2. monitor the device systems and practices
  3. assess risk exposure
  4. recommend remedial measures

Many anti-malware and anti-spyware products and apps exist, some better than others, and some more expensive than others. There are also excellent free programs. It is important to remember the importance of updating anti-malware and antivirus programs. New malware is designed every day, and whenever a new defensive product or revision hits the market, it is only a matter of time before the malware designers find creative ways to circumvent the software. This continuous game requires users to constantly update their protective softwares.

How to Prevent Virus Infection and Eventual Hacking ?

Be careful with the spam you receive; users should not buy anything promoted in a spam message or reply to spam or click on its unsubscribe link. If a users e-mail program has a preview pane, disable it to prevent the spam from reporting back to its sender.

Users should use one e-mail address for family and friends, another for everyone else. When an address attracts too much spam, abandon it for a new one. Users should also select an address with embedded digits. Also, if a user is getting lot of spam, they should check their Internet service provider’s filtering feature and compare them with those of competitors.

Users should use anti-virus software and heed security alerts e-mailed directly from anti-virus vendors to download antidotes for newly circulating viruses and worms.

Be it a computer or cellphone, users should regularly update their operating systems, Web browser and other major software.

Users should only download and install software and applications from trusted sources. They should also close windows containing pop-up ads or unexpected warnings by closing the entire window, not clicking or tapping on anything within the window.

About the Author: Robin C

Security Consultant, Engineer, Technology Enthusiast and Blogger.

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