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  • Writer's pictureEncompass IT Solutions

Mobile Malware: The Forgotten Cybersecurity Gap

With the growing reliance on computers and technology, businesses establish Computer Use Policies to standardize cybersecurity measures and decrease the likelihood of data breaches. However, they tend to forget about other types of devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

Almost everyone has a smartphone, yet businesses have little to no cybersecurity standards on them.

Unfortunately, some business owners tend to forget that the smartphones in our hands are basically mini computers and haven’t stopped to consider the disadvantages of mobile use. With more and more employees relying on their tablets and cellphones to sneak in a few emails here or work remotely there, the risk of mobile malware only increases.

Mobile Malware Continues to Surge

According to Symantec’s 2018 Report, new mobile malware variants have increased 54% since 2017. Even though user error is a huge issue with mobile cybersecurity, there are ways to be proactive against hackers and malware.

Here are a few tips on how to combat mobile malware and keep your devices secure:

1. Get Antivirus and Malware Apps for Your Device.

Avira is a great option since it automatically scans other apps for malicious activity as you download them. Malwarebytes Security is another great option. You should definitely have both on your phone, if possible.

2. Run the Updates on Your Phone iOS or Android OS Versions.

Even though smartphones and computers are often thought of as two different types of technology, they are very similar when you take them apart. Both pieces of technology use an OS (operating system) and require updates that install new security patches of code to block cyber attacks. Updating to the latest operating system is good cybersecurity hygiene. However, Symantec’s 2018 study found that only 20% of Android users are running the newest version of the Android OS, and only 2.3% are on the latest minor release. Minor releases in any OS contain security patches which help plug the security holes that developers find over time. That’s why it’s essential to make sure you’re installing the newest updates whenever you can.

3. Only Download Apps from the Google Play Store or iTunes App Store.

These popular apps stores have specific regulations and tests that apps have to pass in order to be listed and distributed on the store. These tests usually include a malware test, but they don’t always pick up everything. However, it’s still better than downloading an app directly off a website or “software” store.

4. Choose Apps That Have High Ratings, Download Numbers, and are Trusted Companies.

It’s very rare that an application with tons of high ratings and download numbers have malware. Chrome, Gmail, Yelp… These are larger companies that maintain their app’s security to protect both their users and themselves.

5. Pay Attention to Those Permissions.

If a PDF viewing app is asking for permission to access your microphone/phone calls, it might be good uninstall it. The application could contain malicious software created to “spy” or record data to use for blackmail. Mobile users also face privacy risks from “grayware” or “bloatware” apps that aren’t malicious, but can be troublesome. These apps devour CPU usage, storage, and RAM on your phone.

6. Delete Any Accounts and Apps that You Don’t Use.

Not only does this help keep your phone tidy, but it saves space and reduces the likelihood of stolen data. Your forgotten accounts and apps that you don’t update or use can become cybersecurity vulnerabilities. If you use similar passwords for your accounts, it would only take one gaming app to leak the password and be used on all of your other financial accounts.

7. Listen to Your Instincts.

Immediately delete apps that ask for personal information, such as social security numbers or bank account information. If the application is glitchy or won’t provide the functionality you downloaded it for, delete it. Be wary of apps that immediately take you to a fishy, specific URL in your internet browsing app.

When was the last time you considered the cybersecurity of your smartphone or mobile device? If you need help locking down your cybersecurity or creating a new Computer Use Policy that includes mobile devices, feel free to call Encompass IT Solutions at (860) 785-6233 for a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment for businesses.

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