Cyber Security Awareness Month: Malware on my phone!
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, 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, 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 and McAfee 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.