In-depth

How to stop mobile malware in three easy steps

Free your phone from threats in this guide

The advent of smart phones has meant that hackers have many more targets to aim for when looking for victims. We keep a lot of sensitive personal data on them and use these devices to carry out financial transactions on banking apps.

In 2016, Kaspersky Lab detected 8,526,221 malicious installation packages, 128,886 mobile banking Trojans and 261,214 mobile ransomware Trojans.

So how can a mobile user stop mobile malware in three easy steps? 

For further essential tips on stopping mobile malware, download Kaspersky's free report 'Mobile Malware evolution'

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Make sure your phone operating system is up to date

Hackers always look for ways into a device and if it is not updated, there could be vulnerabilities they could use to take over your phone and plant malware on it.

The year's most prevalent trend in 2016, according to Kaspersky's white paper on the subject, Trojans gaining super-user privileges. To get these privileges, hackers use a variety of vulnerabilities that are usually patched in the newer versions of Android. Unfortunately, most user devices do not receive the latest system updates, making them vulnerable.

On an Android device, to update tap on the Settings icon, then scroll down to About phone (or About tablet) Software (or System) update. This will tell you if the phone is up to date or not.

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Don't download apps or files from unknown sources

Often malware comes from third party app stores or files attached to a hacker's email. If you have an Android phone some protection can be gained from setting the device to only allow app downloads from the Google Play Store. To ensure this, go into the Settings Security. Scroll down and under Device Administration look for Unknown sources. Ensure this is unticked.

You can also restrict downloads by enabling a password for new app installation. Especially good if you are a parent who doesn't want their kids to download stuff on a business phone. To do this, go into the Google Play store app then tap the menu button at the top right corner. Tap Settings and look for User Control. Tap on Parental Controls and turn the slider On. You'll be asked to Create content PIN.

However, users should still treat some apps on Google Play with suspicion. According to the Mobile Malware Evolution white paper by Kaspersky, on Google Play in October and November, it detected about 50 new applications infected by Trojan.AndroidOS.Ztorg.am, the new modification of Trojan.AndroidOS.Ztorg.ad. According to installation statistics, many of them were installed more than 100,000 times.

Google Play was used to spread Trojans capable of stealing login credentials. One of them was Trojan-Spy.AndroidOS.Instealy.a which stole logins and passwords for Instagram accounts.

Install anti-virus software

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If you have a device capable of installing and running anti-virus, it is a good idea to do this straightaway. Software such as Kaspersky Internet Security for Android, can block malware and dangerous links, plus help filter out unwanted calls and texts as well as protect privacy.

While anti-virus software on a mobile device is a good idea, common sense never goes amiss. Never click on a link you know nothing about, never trust an email from an unsolicited source, and if you get a text message from someone you don't know claiming you have won a prize, you probably haven't. It will be a ruse to get you to click on a link and infect your mobile with malware. It pays to be cautious.

For further reading on mobile malware and ways to protect yourself, check out Kaspersky's free download 'Mobile Malware evolution'

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