Your smartphone is a very valuable piece of technology. I'm not talking about the price you pay to upgrade to a new gadget either. No, I'm referring to all of the sensitive data these amazing devices hold.
Imagine if a hacker was able to get into your phone to steal banking information and passwords to all of your accounts. Scary! A vulnerability has been recently discovered that allows cybercriminals to do just that and millions of smartphone users are at risk.
Why millions of Android users are at risk
Researchers at Check Point have discovered a major security flaw that puts almost half of all Android users at risk of having their gadget "hijacked." The bug is in Android's software and it allows hackers to steal banking information, passwords and photos. Nearly 45 percent of Android users worldwide are affected by this vulnerability.
What's happening is, malicious apps found in the Google Play Store are taking advantage of the security flaw. It has to do with Google's permissions policy that allows apps to pop-up on your gadget's screen. The vulnerability is found in Android's operating system, version 6.0.1 and newer.
Detailing the bug, Check Point researchers said, "Based on Google's policy which grants extensive permissions to apps installed directly from Google Play, this flaw exposes Android users to several types of attacks, including ransomware, banking malware and adware. Check Point reported this flaw to Google, which responded that this issue is already being dealt with in the upcoming version of Android, currently dubbed 'Android O.'"
The problem with waiting for Android O is it's not expected to be released until August. That's just too long to have an exposed gadget without taking precautions.
In the meantime, you really need to be careful downloading apps. Make sure you read the app's reviews before downloading it. If the app is malicious, there's a good chance an affected user will mention it in the comment section of the app store.
Continue reading for more suggestions on how to avoid malicious apps.
How to stay protected from malicious apps
- Reviews - Most of the popular apps will have reviews by other users in the app store. You can sometimes find reviews by experts online. These are helpful at pointing out malicious or faulty apps. If you find a review warning the app is malicious, do NOT download it.
- App stores - Stay away from third-party app stores because they do little vetting of apps, making it easier for scammers to spread malware there. FalseGuide malware slipping past Google's security and making it into the Play Store is somewhat rare. Google Play and Apple's App Store are the most secure way to download apps.
- Check the apps' developer - Verifying the name of the app developer is important. Copycat apps will have a different developer's name than the actual one. Before downloading an app, do a Google search to find the original developer.
- Update your gadget - Make sure that you have downloaded the latest security and operating system updates. These updates usually include patches to help protect your device from the most recent threats.
If you do think that your Android device has been infected with a virus, don't worry, we've got you covered. Click here to find out how to detect and remove a virus on your Android gadget.
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