Photo: Android via Flickr
Before you deck out your mobile phone with festive holiday screensavers and other apps, you might want want to do your homework first.The dirtiest internet scams out there aren’t only popping up on your computer. Hackers have weaseled their way right into the PC in your pocket—your smartphone.
“Maliciously modified apps have started to become more prevalent,” said Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of antivirus software company McAfee Labs. “Based on McAfee detections, we’ve seen approximately 200 malicious apps versus tens of thousands of good apps.”
And Android users have the most to fear.
The phones are so popular (they have a 48% marketshare) that fraudsters know they’ll target far more consumers by creating malicious apps for Droids than they would for other mobile device users.
Although computers are still the main stage for cyber crime, smartphone users should still be on the lookout for malware apps.
Protect yourself and your phone with these tips:
Research. Don’t download apps that have little to no user ratings. Those reviews can clue you into whether they’re shady or not.
Know where you shop. Don’t buy apps from independent sites. Stick to the site dedicated to your type of phone, whether its iTunes’ App store or the Android Market.
If it smells fishy, it probably is. “When you install an app, you’ll see a list of permissions for services that are granted access to the hardware and software components on your device, like contacts, camera and location,” McAfee says. “If something in the permissions screen doesn’t look right, don’t install that app! For example, a game or alarm clock app probably shouldn’t need to access your contacts or have the ability to transmit that data from your device.”
Plenty of antivirus software companies offer protection that extends from your computer to your cell phone.
Droid users can try AVG Antivirus for Smartphones & Tablets, which is free to download.
iOS users can rest easy for now. According to McAfee, Apple’s iPhones showed no malware threats in the 2nd quarter of 2011.