Shunning mobile viruses

Last time out, as discussed here, we agreed that mobile devices have become a preferred avenue for cyber-attacks. This is due to their popularity and sheer ease of use which has attracted more usage, hence increased attack surface for hackers and bad actors to introduce viruses to destroy, steal, or inconvenience you. 

What then can you do to ensure your mobile stays free of mobile devices?

Install applications from trusted sources

While it is common knowledge that mobile applications can be obtained from the Playstore (android) and Appstore (iPhone), there are alternative sources of applications that pause risks to mobile phone users. While some of these sources may be legitimate, others host nefarious applications that eventually introduce viruses and illegitimate software that harm your device. 

Note that official and legitimate sources will clearly direct you to the official stores for downloads. For example, as shown below, the Truecaller official website will lead you to any of the best sites to download the application. Always ensure that you obtain applications from official or legitimate sources.

Update your phone’s OS regularly

Several major phone manufacturers release periodic updates for their operating systems. Always aim to check for these updates to obtain the latest and safest software versions. Updates fix previous vulnerabilities making it difficult for hackers to exploit known mobile device weaknesses. While buying mobile devices, prefer those that offer patches and major software updates and upgrades. This will ensure your device stays supported against future weaknesses. For example, Nokia and Samsung smartphones support software patches as well as android upgrades, e.g., upgrades from android 10 to 11, depending on the manufacturer’s roadmap. To keep viruses at bay, always check whether your phone supports updates and upgrades, and if so, turn on automatic schedules.


Avoid unsafe links and sites

Just like laptops and desktops, mobile phones can browse the internet through built-in and installed browsers to access different sites. Some of these sites will often be unsafe to visit if communication is not secured via HTTPS protocol. Attackers will make use of social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Twitter to send links to unsuspecting users who fall prey of data breaches and background installation of harmful software. Some of these links will also redirect users to harmful and unsolicited sites such as betting and advertisement sites that may dupe users to reveal sensitive information or perform unplanned actions. If on opening a link you are directed to an unexpected site, exit promptly. Do not fall victim to sites that ask for personal information such as passwords, usernames, and bank details. These sites are backdoors to mobile viruses that harm your device. Whenever you miss the full HTTPS on the link or the padlock symbol to the left of the address bar as shown below, you are at a greater risk of breach. Your browser should also notify you whether your connection is safe or not.

The above three key steps will help keep viruses away from your mobile devices. In addition to these, there are many more habits you can build during this cybersecurity awareness month to improve your safety in this vast universe of technology. For more information on the cybersecurity awareness month, visit eKRAAL's cybersecurity blog.


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