Apps are posted regularly in the Google Play store or iTunes store to be downloaded. We all use them, we all download them. There are many that we use to enhance our home, personal and work lives. Unfortunately, our need to download the latest apps and, the regularity in which new ones appear and the ease in free downloads can sometimes lead to exploitation.
There is limited regulation around the posting of new apps from download stores. This means that apps containing malicious software are on the rise. Be vigilant – do your research before downloading an app. If it doesn’t have many reviews or downloads it may be best to avoid. Also, be very aware of permissions requested by mobile apps as this can indicate malicious behaviour..
While all mobile devices have security risks, iOS has fewer instances of compromise versus Android. The increased vulnerability of Android is a result of its open-source nature, slow rate of user update and reduced app vetting versus iOS. Apple iOS is much more restrictive and maintains control of both mobile phone hardware and app software for increased security.
Google removed more than a dozen Android apps from the Google Play store this past month, found to contain malicious malware.All the apps were disguised as car racing games, two of which made GooglePlay’s ‘trending’ section before being pulled. This follows the discovery of 41apps last year containing auto-clicking adware that infected up to 36.5 million users. Google disclosed in January that it had removed a total of more than 700,000 malicious apps from the Google Play store in 2017.
Put locks on your app downloads so that others accessing your phone cannot download apps without your authority. If you discover an app on your phone that you did not download yourself or one that crashes every time you attempt to use it, delete it immediately. It is advised you launch your phone in safe mode or aeroplane mode to limit app capabilities while deleting.
There are also malware protection apps such as Avast Security, Malwarebytes and 360 Security that can help identify malware and protect from future attacks. Sophos Mobile Security is specifically designed for Android users with malware detection and remote lock/wipe function. However, as with all apps, do your research and know your source. There are also fraudulent antivirus apps circulating that put users at risk. While adding security to mobile devices is recommended employing best practices such as limiting app downloads to reviewed apps with regular updating of device and app software will be most beneficial.