How to protect your phone from malware and cybercriminals – Guide

Cybersecurity experts assess the ground rules for protecting your smartphone and other personal devices from malicious software In 1971, Bob Thomas, a programmer at BBN Technologies, a US-based technology company, created the world’s first computer virus. It was called the Creeper program. The Creeper virus was harmless, designed as an experimental security test to see if a self-replicating program could work. According to a blog on the history of computer viruses from global cybersecurity company Kaspersky, with each new hard drive infected, Creeper tried to remove itself from its previous host. It would display a simple message: “I’m THE CREEPER. CATCH ME IF YOU CAN!” Fifty years later, the digital world is full of all kinds of cyber threats that are not so easy to detect. Viruses have been replaced by malware. For example, a highly advanced malware called FluBot has recently started to affect Android users in the US, Europe and Australia. It spreads through a normal SMS, causing users to click on an unauthorized link that claims to have been lost. phone call, voicemail or even an SMS from popular logistics delivery brands. When you click on this phishing link, malware is downloaded onto your device. According to the August 2021 Global Threat Index from international cybersecurity solutions company Check Point, the FluBot, once installed on your device, can access all of your sensitive information. That’s what different malware does, whether it’s computer adware, crypto-jacking malware, botnets, rootkits or spyware. Made for trick users, they may have multiple origins and the threat only increased during the pandemic. From March 2020 to July 2021, Kaspersky identified more than 5,000 pandemic-related phishing sites designed to steal user credentials and other private data and prevent more than a million users from visiting these sites. It’s important to stay alert, stay up-updated with phone and app updates and take all possible precautions, such as avoiding public Wi-Fi.

red flags

If your smartphone has been affected by malicious software, it is more likely to show up on the basic performance of the device. The same goes for PCs, experts say. “When you notice that your smartphone or PC suddenly slows down or you witness the phone the battery is drastically depleted or too hot, consider that a red flag,” said Judith Bitterli, senior vice president of consumers at cybersecurity firm McAfee. Bitterli says malware eats up system resources, creating conflicts with other applications and uses your data or internet connection to pass your personal information to the authors. “If you are having problems shutting down or starting up your devices, it crashes frequently or you tend to see pop-ups ads than usual or notice unknown charges up“This is a hint that your device may be compromised and not just getting old,” Bitterli said via email. Pop-up ads, which appear on unknown websites, are now designed in such a way that, the moment you click on any of them, a virus or malware is automatically downloaded and starts running on your website. phone or PC. Since smartphones are now connected and control multiple devices on our homes, they have become even more attractive targets for cybercriminals, prime targets for ransomware developers and identity thieves. Previously, the purpose of computer viruses and malicious software was to stop work. But now malware is designed to generate money or ransom for a user. Since many of us are now working from home, far from the secure technology environment of a workplace, instances of adware and ransomware attacks have disappeared up, says Rahul Tyagi, co-founder of California-based cybersecurity firm Safe Security. “The number of hacks we’ve seen on the Android platform is much higher than on iOS,” says Tyagi. “One of the signs (if your device is compromised) to keep an eye out for is data usage. Sometimes data synchronization takes place in the background and is not visible to you. Also, keep an eye out for all calls and text messages that were not made or sent by you. ” Another common telltale sign of a compromised smartphone is apps that crash too often, says Ritesh Chopra, director of field sales and marketing, India and SAARC, for NortonLifeLock, the consumer cybersecurity company. “The programs you use on a daily basis may refuse to open. There are many other signs. For example, you may not have substantial data, music, or images on your device, but there is still little or no storage left. These are very early and common signs,” says Chopra.

The solutions

Many of us work on devices, both phones and PCs, where the holy grail of security was good antivirus software. But there are some others tips which can help you avoid malware. The first and most obvious is to keep your operating system and apps up to date, regardless of the device you use. Regular software updates from the smartphone manufacturer can not only stop malicious software from working, but also fix any vulnerabilities in a device that is already affected by malware. Be aware of the websites you visit and avoid clicking on unfamiliar links, specifically those that offer free screensavers or other extraordinarily generous offers and promotions. Your inbox is another potential source of input: Don’t click or open any emails or attachments from unverified senders. Another common mistake many of us make, according to experts, is using public Wi-Fi networks without a proper VPN connection, or virtual private network. “People often get confused between VPNs and a web proxy. A proxy only protects data in your browser, not applications outside of it. But if you install a VPN, every bit of information that enters and leaves your system is protected and encrypted,” says Tyagi. For smartphones, two-factor authentication and stronger passwords provide an extra layer of protection, but Bitterli says users should also avoid public charging stations, as hackers are known to install malware on them. Smartphone apps are essential. Get rid of old apps and always use the official app stores while downloading newer ones, says Bitterli. Apps downloaded from any third-party store, other than the Play Store or App Store, do not go through a review process and may allow malicious software to access your device. It’s a good idea to regularly review smartphone apps and permissions. For example, why does a simple smartphone game or food delivery app require permission to view your contacts, messages or photo gallery? “There are at least 60 apps on the smartphone of an average Indian,” says Chopra. “What are these apps doing on the back end? A user needs to track this. Technically, the computer virus is dead. All focus shifted to malware. ”

Final note

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