You can be the victim of identity theft from malicious mobile apps in the same way desktop computer viruses steal information. Malware writers have moved on to mobile devices as a way to steal data from unsuspecting iPhone, Android, iPad or other tablets and smartphones users. This article gives you three signs that your mobile device has a virus and what you can do to protect your device.
Your mobile device isn’t immune to viruses. Just like a desktop computer virus, mobile viruses interfere with your mobile apps and silently send private data to a hacker. Android and iOS have security measures that let you know a program wants to access the Internet, but when is the last time you restricted a mobile app and blocked Internet access? Both Android and iOS ask your permission before allowing an app to access the Internet, but most people freely give permission without considering that the mobile app is malicious. Here are a few signs that let you know your iPhone, iPad, or Android device might have a virus installed.
Your Battery Dies Too Quickly
When any program on your mobile device uses a data connection, the battery dies more quickly. Continuous data usage is one of the main reasons a battery drains within a few hours. When a virus runs in the background, it continuously checks for a data connection to send information to the hacker over the Internet. Most mobile app viruses are created to take your personal information and upload it to hackers, so when your batter drains within a few hours and you aren’t using the device, it’s a sign that an unknown program is running in the background. If you recently downloaded a program and your battery dies very quickly, you could have a virus. Note that other programs also drain the battery, so this sign isn’t a good signal alone. Other signs and symptoms should be used along with the battery draining quickly.
Mobile Apps Run Unusually Slowly
Unless the virus is written well, most of malicious programs slow the operating system and other apps when you use them. With a desktop virus, one sign of a malicious program is that the virus starts when the computer boots, which harms computer performance. The same sign is true for a mobile device. The virus runs in the background and identifies important programs you run on your device. Let’s say you run a banking program. This information is valuable to the hacker, so the program will detect that you’re running a banking program and attempt to steal the information you enter. If you notice that some of your important mobile apps run more slowly after installing a third-party app, the third-party app might be interfering.
Random Popups or Malfunctioning Programs
Mobile app developers can use push notifications to send you an alert when an app receives a message or detects something on your device. Push notifications are similar to desktop popups. While most mobile app developers use push notifications sparingly, malicious app developers use them for advertisements. If you start receiving unwanted notifications on your device, it could be from mobile malware. You might also see these popups or push notifications referred to as “adware.” Some push notifications are legitimate, and you can stop them by changing the configurations in your app. For instance, when you have Facebook installed on your mobile device, you get notifications that someone responded to your Facebook post. Malware writers do the same except they advertise unwanted products, websites or services.
Viruses attempt to steal information from other legitimate programs on your desktop or mobile device. When viruses attempt to interact with legitimate programs, they sometimes interfere with the functionality of your programs. The result is that your legitimate programs crash, run slowly or function differently than they should. If you recently installed a mobile app and your other programs aren’t functioning properly, remove the questionable program and see if it makes a difference.
How Do You Remove Malicious Mobile Apps?
The first step you should take is delete questionable apps. If you recently downloaded and installed a mobile app, delete this app. If you didn’t download the app from a trusted source such as Google Play or Apple’s App Store, delete it. Most malware writers distribute mobile app viruses directly from a website. Reputable app stores remove any suspicious mobile apps reported as malware, so malware writers are forced to distribute their software on third-party websites.
Protecting Your Mobile Device from Malware
As mobile devices continue to be more important in people’s everyday lives, malware writers continue to introduce an increasing number of malicious applications in the mobile market. Thankfully, some popular antivirus vendors also provide mobile apps for smartphones and tablets. Some vendors offer antivirus software for free while others come at a cost. Before you choose an antivirus app for your mobile device, do some research and review comments from other users. You want an app that not only detects malware on your device, but also lets you update and protect your device from future viruses.
Most people have some type of malware protection on a desktop, and the same should happen with mobile devices. Several popular antivirus vendors also offer a mobile app version that you can download for Android or iOS. Avast and Comodo are the two popular free antivirus programs on the market. McAfee, Norton’s and AVG also offer paid antivirus apps you can download.
When you choose your antivirus app, always keep it enabled and keep it updated as soon as an upgrade is available. Both Android and iOS tell you when an upgrade is available, so you shouldn’t have a hard time remembering to update your software.
Just like desktop antivirus software, you must keep your mobile app antivirus definition files updated. Virus definition files are the key to detecting a malicious application. Each virus in the wild has a signature. Signature files are a database of virus code that antivirus software uses to detect a malicious program on your device. Without updated signature files, your antivirus program is rendered useless. Some mobile app antivirus programs automatically detect and download updated signature files. If you can’t remember to update your signature files, choose an antivirus app program that does it for you automatically.
Mobile app viruses are just as dangerous as desktop malware. These malicious programs leave your private data exposed, and you can be the victim of identity theft if you don’t protect your device. Use mobile antivirus software and keep it updated to ensure that your information is protected.