It blows my mind just how many replies I get when I write columns like this. People are gullible and use the “but I was so-o busy” excuse, as if they didn’t know the world was a wicked place full of booby traps. Like, you know that when you’re surfing, especially in the dire mire of porn of unknown origins (that’s why you love Badoink.io, innit?) on the Web, you shouldn’t click on ads promising new ways to get laid, lengthen your members or lose tons of weight without dieting. It’s called common sense. Yet in some of the sob-stories I get, perfectly intelligent people who open Tweets that show “Explicit rape photos from the civil war in Syria!” admitting to being suckered in the dumbest ways. You already know not to do those things from years at your computer. Well, those super cybercriminals and hackers from Voor ve zakonye and the Neapolitan mafia, or whoever, know we know this, too. So, they moved from your PC to your smartphone.
There are, according to the Financial Times, nearly 750,000 malware apps exclusively dedicated to Android users. A security company, Bitdefender, claim there has been an increase of 300% in Android-focused malware in 2013, though that’s not limited to apps. A recent Cisco security study showed that 99% of all the mobile malware out there targets Android users, noting that the fully 71 percent of Android users encounter some form of malware, either through apps, email phishing, “smishing” (the use of text messages to distribute malware) or other forms of social engineers.
Why Android users? Well, Android makes a simple, cheap device, which makes it a better investment of a criminal hacker’s precious time. The toolkits for creating this malware are readily available on the Web and in the retail black market. Finally, again I can’t be specific for legal purposes, but there’s an exploitative mode of malware that criminal makers use to get into Android devices, which builders like Google and Samsung refuse to view as a flaw, per sé, because it serves as a legitimate alternate Android function, which they can alter and interfere with in a negative way.
Your mentality should be built around the idea that your phone is no different to your computer. For some unfathomable reason – and I think it’s because so many of us are doing stuff on the run – people forget that every message can be a minefield. If you wouldn’t click on it, open it, download it or go to great efforts to get it for free on your laptop, don’t do it on your smartphone! ‘Free’ apps often end up costing big as your phone spams your contacts with texts you didn’t send.
Don’t know who the message is from? Don’t open it! If it looks iffy, wait, get home and use a URL expander to check where shortened links really lead. Have the time to call or email the friend who sent something that looks fishy. Wicked-ass Malware developers have a modus operandi wherein they simply take apps folks want (but maybe don’t want to pay for), update them with malware and upload them to the Google Play store for unsuspecting users to download. “Oh, how can I turn down a freebie?” you say to yourself. Well, be a grown-up! There simply are no free lunches. Don’t see a little blue icon next to the company’s name in the Google Play store? It’s not a verified developer!!!
Dishonest vendors – and it varies from state to state in the US and province to province in Canada – will call your cell and the very act of answering means you have made contact and therefore have assented and created a verbal agreement to accept ‘services’ from said vendor. Again, do not take calls on the run! Check to see who exactly is calling you! If you don’t know that person, do not answer. Remember! They only need you to initiate a conversation for them to charge you for a nonexistent service. And, again, go over every single line of your phone bill like an accountant. Phone companies, and I can’t name them and shame them for various legal reasons, too, have crews of ruthless sales people (and lawyers who defend them) who knowingly sell such services to criminals. This happens simply because most folks don’t read their phone bills properly, shrug and pay.