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Malware on mobile devices. What they represent and how you avoid them


Online communications and services have grown tremendously in the last decade. At the same time, mobile devices have become the main tools both in business and in everyday life. That is why ensuring the security of these devices and protecting them from cyber threats is one of the current concerns of specialists in the field and users. Currently, online dangers do not only include viruses. Some threats that can infect your devices, allowing cybercriminals to access your personal data, can cause data loss, overload your network connection or device processor.


What is a malware program? 


Malware is any type of software created specifically to affect computers, tablets or smartphones. Malware can steal information from devices, slow it down, or even send fake e-mails without your knowledge.
 

Among the most common types of malware are the following:
- virus - a program specially designed to infect any type of device;
- computer worm - a malicious program that sends copies of it to other devices over a network;
- spyware - malware program that collects information from users without their knowledge;
- adware - software program created to play, display or download ads automatically on a device;
- Trojan horse - a dangerous program that seems to be a useful application, but once installed, affects the device or steals information.


How do malware spread?


Malware can be installed on mobile devices in various ways. The most common ways are:
- downloading free software programs from the Internet, which contain undetected malware;
- downloading unlicensed programs, which come bundled with malware;
- accessing a site infected with malware;
- clicking on a fake error message or a fake pop-up window, which causes a malware program to download;
- opening an e-mail attachment containing malware.


How do you know you have malware on your device?


There are some types of malware that let you know when they get on your mobile device, while others can hide. Remember the experiences when malware, like viruses, caused the famous "blue screen"? This way you knew that an "intruder" had entered your smartphone. Today, many types of malware remain on devices without causing the symptoms of an infection. Even if malicious products are not visible, they may collect personal data when you log in to online accounts or important information stored on your phone. That's why it's important to have antivirus software installed that recognizes and helps remove malicious programs.


By following some pointers, you may understand that a malware infection is present on your device:
- it works slowly or with malfunctions;
- pop-up windows appear when you are online;
- some people may receive suspicious emails that you did not send;
- the smartphone battery is discharging too fast;
- increase the use of mobile data.


How to protect your mobile devices from malware?


To prevent the infection of mobile devices with malware, the Information Technology and Cyber ​​Security Service of the Republic of Moldova has developed a set of measures that you can apply every day to avoid unpleasant situations.

  1. Only install apps that come from trusted sources.
  2. Do not click on links or attachments in unsolicited emails or text messages.
  3. After making a payment, disconnect from web pages and never save your username and password in your mobile browser or mobile applications.
  4. Update your operating system and applications. With the latest updates installed, not only will your device be more secure, but it will work better.
  5. Turn off Wi-Fi, location services, and Bluetooth when you're not using them.
  6. Avoid disclosing your personal information.
  7. Do not jailbreak your device. Jailbreaking is the process of removing the security limitations imposed by the operating system vendor by providing full access to the operating system and features.
  8. Back up your data to your smartphone or tablet. This will allow you to easily restore your personal data if your device has been lost, stolen or damaged.
  9. Install a mobile security application. All operating systems are at risk of infection. If available, use a mobile security solution that detects and prevents malware, spyware and malicious applications, and other features that protect your privacy and anti-theft features.