Malware, or malicious software, consists of programs or files that are written with the intention of causing unwanted effects on any device that they succeed in infecting. The impact malware has on a device varies greatly depending on the type of malware, some may cause the mildly inconvenient appearance of unwanted messages on the screen whilst others may result in serious damage to the software and data stored on the device.There are many thousands of different types of malware in existence today, including worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, etc., the first having been created more than 30 years ago.
As mobile devices have become more sophisticated, they too have become vulnerable to malware. Currently, there is less mobile device malware in existence than computer malware and present day mobile device malware is less sophisticated and poses lower risk than computer malware. It is anticipated that mobile device malware will become more common and more threatening in the future and it is therefore prudent for mobile device users to take some precautions. Here are some simple steps that you can take to reduce the risk of your device becoming infected:
- Ensure your device is running the latest version of your chosen operating system as it will contains the most recent security patches to protect against known vulnerabilities. You can ensure you always receive and load the latest software version by configuring your device settings to automatically receive and load software updates.
- Never install any software onto your mobile device unless you know and trust the source of that software and you were expecting to receive it. This refers to any software or application that you receive on your device through any channel, e.g. by download from the internet, attached to an SMS, MMS, Instant Message or E-mail, through Bluetooth™, infra-red or data connection, via synchronisation with a computer or from a memory card or other temporary storage device read by the device.
- Only download mobile applications from trusted app stores that properly curate the publication and distribution of mobile apps and that have some form of vetting to identify and eliminate malicious apps.
- Never ignore or override security prompts displayed by your device unless you are confident that you fully understand the risks associated with this actions.
- Never load unauthorised (‘pirate’) copies of software onto your device as these may be carrying hidden viruses or other malicious code.
- If you are particularly concerned around the potential infection of your device by mobile malware, you may wish to consider installing specialist anti-virus software on your device. Some mobile service providers, together with a number of independent anti-virus companies, offer device based anti-virus software. Other security software solutions, such as firewalls and anti-adware software are also now available for mobile devices.
If you have reason to believe that your device may have become infected by malware, you should contact the customer service department at your service provider. They should be able to advise you on the best way in which you can restore your device to a non-infected state.