Cyber Security Awareness Month: Malware on my phone!

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October is Cyber Security Awareness month, which makes it a great time to review security on your mobile devices. Instead of elaborating on the staggering statistics showing that malware infections on mobile devices is at an all-time high[1], I wanted to share a personal experience of malware on my cell phone.

A couple months ago I experienced a malware attack on my phone. While at home, I scrolled through Facebook and noticed a link to an article about an accident that had taken place in my home city. The article piqued my curiosity so I clicked the link and instantly regretted my decision. The link opened a website that had been hacked: Multiple popups displayed on my phone screen stating my phone had a virus, and then my phone started vibrating and buzzing like a swarm of bees. After a couple seconds of utter shock I took the following steps to ensure my device was safe and my accounts had not been hacked.

First, I closed the Facebook app without selecting any icon on the screen or attempting to close out the page. I returned to the home screen by pressing the home button. Then, I pressed the button to open recent apps and closed all open applications. (Both Android and Apple devices have this ability.) Using Lookout[2], a mobile security app, I ran a full security scan on my phone. Thankfully, Lookout found that my phone was not infected.

Second, I needed to ensure that my password had not been stolen. On my computer I logged into Facebook and changed my password. From within Facebook, I could force a log out on all devices currently connected to Facebook. I reviewed recent posts to my account. Every post was mine and there was no suspicious activity. As a precaution I uninstalled the Facebook app on my phone then reinstalled it to be sure there were no remnants of malware left on my device. Over the next few days I kept a close eye on the accounts currently connected from my phone to ensure they had not been compromised.

Thankfully, my phone was not infected but it was a frightening experience that emphasized the importance of mobile security. When a similar experience happens to you, it is important you have a plan to lessen its impact. Perhaps the single most important thing you can do to protect your mobile device – and the apps that affect your personal identity – is install an anti-malware security program. Avast[3] and McAfee[4] are great security programs available for both iOS and Android phones. Another good tip is to only save login information for accounts that contain non-critical information. Finally, be cautious with links on social media sites, when downloading new apps, and with any pop-ups on your mobile device. Had I been more cautious, I would not have followed the link in Facebook.





Written by: , DASNR IT

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