Thousands of mobile malware variants have been discovered since late 2010, when the first malware samples for Android and iOS devices were identified.
Today, malware researchers have discovered many more malicious apps for Android than for iOS, most likely due to Android devices allowing their users to install apps using third-party sources. File sharing sites often host malicious versions of popular applications and games.
With mobile malware, similar to malware for personal computers, the focus for cybercriminals is on making money. Similar to Windows malware, mobile malware spreads fake antivirus applications and steals confidential information. Other types of mobile malware send SMS messages or place calls to premium rate numbers, if the target device is a part of a mobile phone network.
Even trusted sources host applications that may pose a risk to the user’s privacy. Many advertising frameworks may share a user’s personally identifiable information, such as location or phone number. These applications may be classified as potentially unwanted applications (PUAs).
You can keep your mobile device free of mobile malware if you keep the mobile operating system current with security updates and by downloading and installing only applications from trusted sources such as Google Play and Apple iTunes.
Mobile security software provides an additional layer of protection. To learn how to keep your Android device protected or to download a free tool, check out Sophos Mobile Security for Android.
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