'Tis the season for Christmas everything. We'll listen to Christmas music non-stop, watch Christmas movies every day, and even load up Christmas apps on our tablets, phones and computers. But while you're probably safe when "The Grinch" comes on TV, you might not be so secure when it comes to software.
Today or tomorrow, you might end up spending a lot of time with your family, and enjoying a fun Santa-themed game on your iPad sounds like a great way to bond with the kids or grandkids. You DEFINITELY need to check out these fun (and safe) Santa tracking apps. But if you download one particularly dangerous app to your computer or mobile gadget, you'll be unwrapping a gift of Christmas malware.
A security research firm called CloudSek discovered a nasty piece of malware they're calling Santa-APT. APT stands for "advanced persistent threat." CloudSek profiled the malware in an app called "Play With Santa," but it's important to know that it could be hidden in other shady Christmas-themed apps that haven't been uncovered yet.
This malware can steal your personal and private files, take screenshots, take over your microphone and camera and much more. It works on computers as well as Android and iOS. In fact, it's very similar to the type of malware infecting many Bible apps. CloudSek says that at least 8,000 gadgets have been hit so far, and at least 120 GB of data stolen. All things considered, that's not a huge infection, but it is still a serious threat.
How do you stay safe? You should always stick to trustworthy app stores like Apple's App Store and Google Play. Always, always read the permissions the app requires before install. If a simple Santa game is asking for access to your contacts or your camera, you should be wary. Also, it's a best practice to read reviews before downloading. If it doesn't have plenty of legitimate, positive reviews, just stay away.
Think your Android phone or tablet may have a virus? Click here to find out one clear sign your Android gadget is infected.