Aaaaand the hits keep on coming. It seems like just
yesterday that I was telling you about a choice bit of Android malware
disguised as a game. Now, you can infect your smartphone by trying to install a
bogus version of the ultra-popular Instagram.
With this new exploit, users infect themselves by grabbing
the app from a near-perfect spoofed version of the Instagram site. Install this
rogue app, and a Trojan is installed onto your phone, which turns around and
sends SMS messages to premium numbers, racking up your bill.
The lesson, as always, is to try to download apps from
trusted sources. If you’re downloading directly from the vendor, do your very
best to make sure you’re at the correct site before installing anything. (If
it’s an IP address in your browser bar, you’re almost certainly not at the
right place.) Double-check before committing to anything.
This is usually where I’d say to try to get your downloads
directly from Google Play if you can, but even that’s not a guarantee of safety. In fact, last week there were
also reports of a Trojan found in as many as 15 apps found on the Google Play
store, mostly targeted at Japanese users with eyes that rove towards more
I’ve finally bitten the bullet and put an anti-malware solution
on my phone - in this case, Norton Mobile Security. I’ll write about it in more
detail once I’ve had a chance to live with it for a while.
The sobering reality is much the same as it used to be in
the world of PCs: even with protection onboard, you’re never going to be 100%
safe. Indeed, in these early days of smartphone malware protection, it can be
really hit and miss: worryingly, a good chunk of these products catch only
65-90 per cent of threats, and some – even products from trusted names – catch
less than 65 per cent.
If it feels like the Wild West out there to you, you’re not
alone. But it’s the new reality for the post-PC age: as people move away from
their desktop and perform more of their day-to-day activity on mobile devices,
that’s where the bad guys are going to start targeting you. So stay sharp.
Smartphone malware image by Shutterstock.com