Terrifying new risk for smartphone users
Filed under: Scams & Fraud
But how does it work and how can you protect yourself?
The attacksCriminals are creating copies of apps and hiding viruses inside them. They then upload them to app shops, and when you download one, it automatically infects your phone with a virus. Get Safe Online, which is run by the government, police and the industry have warned of a rise in smartphone malware since the number of handsets has taken off in the UK.
One of the most alarming kinds of attack will use your phone to make money for the criminals by sending texts to premium rate numbers. This is hard to detect before you get your monthly bill and discover the astronomical cost of all those texts that you had no idea your phone was secretly sending. These texts can cost up to £6 each, and some send as many as one a minute, so you can imagine the financial damage this malware can do.
Other types of malware act as spies on your phone. They wait for when people are sending personal information, or inputting passwords into key websites and then send that data back to the criminal gangs to exploit. Given that 17% of all people with smart phones use them to manage their money, it's easy to see how we make ourselves vulnerable to these attacks.
So how can you protect yourself?A number of steps are well worth taking in order to protect yourself from attack. First, take the time to research when you are downloading an app. Make sure you are getting what you expect, and that it is from a reputable source. Some hide in apps that look like perfectly reputable ones. Others hide in what are pretending to be stripped down versions of games offered for free, which should be avoided.
It is also worth keeping an eye on your account. Make sure you check every bill thoroughly, and keep an eye on your battery life. If it is running down unusually fast it may be carrying out tasks you are unaware of.