How to detect malware in your smartphone

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SOFTWARE security developer ESET listed down red flags that would help smartphone users notice if their gadget has been compromised.

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According to ESET, more than ever, cellphones have increasingly become the number one storage for sensitive information.

ESET’s sales and marketing director for Asia Pacific Parvinder Walia said that while confidential information thieves operate to be unnoticed, the first step to protecting devices is knowing how to identify malicious activity.

Delaying the malicious action using only Wi-Fi networks or reducing the level of activity when the user is operating the device are some of the strategies used by the malware to conceal itself.

Nonetheless, eventually the malicious activity will have to kick into action, and that’s when the user can start to pay attention to certain signs to detect illegitimate activity.

Apps behaving strangely Walia said apps behaving in a strange manner can be a tell-tale sign that a device has been compromised.

He said one possible clue to diagnosing malware on a device is the sudden failure of apps that usually work well. Apps that unexpectedly close or display error prompts could tell that there is a malicious code on the device that interferes with the regular system processes.

Walia explained that malware try to take advantage of vulnerabilities present in the system’s apps, using them to access permissions that have been granted to them, or to violate the platform and run commands with administrator permissions. Such attempts to exploit the weaknesses of other apps may result in error.

Being aware of what apps are installed on your phone will make it easier to identify any app that you didn’t authorize.

Malicious apps disguise themselves as system components. If the app has requested administrator permissions, the user may be able to uninstall it through the system settings. So, it’s important to be extremely careful with what permissions are granted to apps when they are installing—or running.

Unknown log entries Because malware families usually make calls or send messages to premium international numbers, unknown entries in call logs can also be a signal of malicious activities.

Such malware which has been significantly growing ends up having a direct impact on the user, who unjustly has to pay the costs.

Excessive data usage Malicious apps may be using the data system to communicate with command and control centers operated by cybercriminals in order to download orders and updates, as well as send back information stolen from the device. Changes in normal data usage pattern can tell if malware are present in a smartphone’s system.

Strange text messages One method used a lot by cybercriminals to control infected mobile devices is sending text messages containing commands to be interpreted by the malware, which then takes the corresponding action.

Mobile malware can also send text messages to phone numbers from the user’s list of contacts as a way to propagate itself, using this method to get the recipients to download malicious content via specific links.

Unknown transactions Sending text messages, making calls, and using the data system will result in increased costs, which the user will be responsible for. Examining the costs attributed to your mobile phone number on a monthly basis is a good practice to be able to detect any malicious activity quickly.

Walia said owners whose smartphones have been infected with malware should install security solutions that scan the device to identify the threat.

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