It used to be confined to desktops and laptops but now, more than ever, mobile gadgets such as our smartphones and tablets, are being targeted with viruses, trojans, malware, spyware, ransomware, adware - just about any type of "ware" cybercrooks can think of.
Android gadgets, in particular, are more vulnerable to these kinds of attacks because users can set them up to install third-party apps directly from the internet and not vetted by the Google Play Store.
Apple vs Google, is one safer than the other?
In fact, according to a study conducted earlier this year, 81 percent of primary mobile targets are Android phone and tablets.
It's bad enough that Google introduced Google Play Protect to help stop Android malware infections in real time.
Although Android gadgets are primary targets, this doesn't mean Apple gadgets are completely safe from attacks. Although uncommon compared to Android malware, hackers also constantly search for holes and exploits to infiltrate iOS gadgets.
Just last year, a major iOS security hole was found that could allow an attacker to take control of an iPhone with just a single text. Apple issues security updates to close holes as they are discovered but this illustrates that iPhones and iPads are not immune to malware attacks.
There's also this practice on iOS gadgets known as "jailbreaking." This bypasses Apple's virtually sandboxed system to open up your iPhone or iPad to apps and functions that are not normally allowed. Jailbreaking is really a form of hacking your iOS gadget to make it more open and customizable - yep, like Android.
What do viruses do to your phone or tablet?
Now that we've established that both Android and Apple phones and tablets can be hit by a virus or malware, are there tell-tale signs that will clue you in that your gadget is indeed infected?
Typically, profit-oriented infections like spyware, adware, clickware, or premium SMS scams are stealthy since these want to milk your gadget for revenue for as long as they can.
So aside from the obvious signs of ransomware and lockware, how can you tell that there's something malicious lurking on your gadget?
Here are clues you need to watch out for to suspect that your gadget is infected with some form of malware (both Android and iOS, jailbroken or not).
Surge in data usage
One of the first things to check is your monthly data usage. This is generally located on your statement from your cellphone service provider or when you view your mobile account details online. Compare the amount of data used to data usage from the prior months and if you notice sudden spikes in your data even though you haven't really changed your usage patterns, then chances are you are infected.
Adware infected phones usually perform unsolicited clicks in the background to generate profit for cybercriminals. All of these stealthy tactics use up bandwidth and the unauthorized data they consume should be fairly easy to spot.
One other sure sign that your Android gadget is infected is by incurring unusual charges on your cellphone bill under the "SMS" category. This happens when your gadget is infected with malware that sends text messages to premium-rate numbers and charges you.
If you're starting to get annoying pop-up ads and notifications, unwanted reminders and nagging "system" warnings that just won't go away, then your phone may have been compromised. Malware can also add bookmarks that you don't want, website shortcuts to your home screen that you didn't create and spammy messages that entice you to click through.
Apart from slowing down your phone and eating away at your data, these intrusive notifications can also install more malware on your phone.