If you’re like most users, you immediately think about your desktop or laptop computer. Today the most neglected computers are the ones that you use the most. I am talking about your Smartphone or Tablet devices. That’s right, we’re seeing an alarming number of malware infections on mobile devices. According to the Mobile Threat Report Q1 2012 (pdf) released by security company F-Secure, the number of malicious Android application package files they received in the first three months of the year grew from 139 in 2011 to 3063 for the same period in 2012. You may be saying that you are careful and only download well-known applications, so you don’t have to worry about this. I hate to burst your bubble but, according to researchers at The Department of Computer Science at the North Carolina State University 86% of all Android malware is actually repackaged versions of legitimate apps, but with malicious payloads!
If you are of the mindset that “I use a mac, therefor I don’t need to worry about viruses”, let me remind you of Flashback, or Mac Defender. At the beginning of this year, over 600,000 Macs worldwide were infected by a piece of malware called Flashback. All the user had to do was visit a webpage using their Mac and Flashback installed itself onto their computer. While there are no known malware for iOS (iPhone, iPad, etc.) the explosion of its popularity means that it will most likely become a target for cyber criminals. Let’s also remember that while your iOS device currently is not being infected by malware, it can be a carrier, passing along files that do have viruses in them like email, or regular files that may be synced offsite, like iCloud, Dropbox, or Google Drive.
Take a moment and think about what you do with your phone or tablet. Email? Web Browsing? Ordering a Pizza? Online Banking? Editing a last minute PowerPoint presentation? Any of these tasks can reveal personally identifiable information, or potentially sensitive work information. Something as simple as ordering a pizza during the football game can reveal your full name, email address, home address, credit card information, and favorite pizza toppings. One of the common malware packages impersonates token generators for mobile banking, sending your user information back to their control servers. Others turn the infected device into a botnet that’s controlled through the internet. These devices can then be used for things like making phone calls or using premium content without the user’s knowledge.
My favorite mobile antivirus application for Android is avast! Mobile Security. This is an all-in-one product that has antivirus, firewall, web shield, SMS/call filtering, and theft management. Another big hitter in the fight for virus free devices is Lookout Security & Antivirus. Both products rate high in all of the testing I have come across. AV-Test Labs did their own security report in which they tested 41 different Android Anti-Malware solutions. Since the iOS has not had any malware attacks to date, there are not a lot of antivirus applications available.
Please research your options when it comes to antivirus for all of your devices. Not only are you protecting yourself, but you’re protecting your family and co-workers!