Learn How to Protect Yourself Against Malware – Q&A with Michael Singer

  1. What can a dangerous app do if it is downloaded onto somebody’s phone? How would it access the information on that phone and cause trouble?

Some applications contain unnecessary functionality such as access to contacts, texting or camera that can go unnoticed on the device, and gain access to your personal or protected information.

Most common mobile malware scams

Cybercriminals see mobile malware as another opportunity to gain access to your personal or financial information. These criminals use the following scams:

  • Acquire your personal information and identity.
  • Bill your account by an unauthorized text.
  • Send unsolicited spam messages to your mobile device.
  • Request your financial information through a text that impersonates a legitimate source.
  • Control your device remotely even when not in use to collect any available data; including text messages, pictures, phone calls, and email.
  • Ban mobile device use or create a slow performance.
  • Listen and record sounds and voices within range of your mobile device.


2. What are the most common risks when downloading a dangerous app?

Viruses and spyware can cause very serious consequences including:

  • Identity theft and fraud from apps working in the background to steal personal information stored on the phone.
  • Premium rate calls and text messages being sent from your phone without your knowledge.
  • Deletion and corruption of data.
  • A slow or unusable device.
  • Decreased battery life.


3. What should people look out for when they think about downloading an app? What are possible warning signs that an app might not be the best thing for someone’s phone?

Secure your device

  • Regularly back up your data and device to avoid any information loss.
  • Consider downloading a virus protection application to enhance your device’s security protections. These applications can help recognize content that might compromise information on your mobile device and help you stay secure.
    • Create a password or PIN to access your device.
    • Ensure you set a screen lock after prolonged inactivity.
    • Adhere to the restrictions on your device’s system software.
    • It is important to never root or jailbreak your mobile device. “Jailbreaking” is the removal of hardware restrictions on iOS devices, and “rooting” the equivalent on Android devices, allowing a user to install unapproved apps.  While some mobile device users, particularly students and technology savvy individuals, want some added functionality provided by rooting or jailbreaking, doing so is the number one way viruses and malicious software infects mobile devices today.

Watch your online activities

  • Create strong, secure passwords for any features that handle messaging, calling, voicemail, or email accessed through a Web browser from your device.
  • Click on links only sent via text or email from a known source.
  • When possible, provide personal information and conduct transactions only when on secure WiFi. When on public WiFi, use these tips to help protect your information.
    • Don’t reply to unsolicited texts from unknown sources.
    • Use a secure wireless network to browse and download applications.
    • Double-check the site’s domain you’re visiting to make sure it’s legitimate.
    • Download apps only from trustworthy sources. Using alternatives to your device’s pre-loaded application store can increase the risk of downloading an application that includes a virus.
    • Review permissions requested during app installation, including the app’s privacy policy to make sure that it won’t share your personal information.

Be proactive

  • Use our Lookout app to protect your mobile device against viruses, malware, and spyware. With Lookout, you can browse, download, shop, and pay with confidence.
  • Connect your mobile device to a private computer or network, versus a public computer or network.
  • Back up important data regularly.
  • Keep your device’s operating system and applications up-to-date to ensure you have the latest security patches.
  • Uninstall unused apps.
  • Avoid sharing your mobile device.

There are many free security features already available to protect your data and personal information. Taking time to enable and maximize these security measures should be a priority. However, you can install third-party apps and browsers to enhance security.


4. What would you recommend to people who have already downloaded a dangerous app? How should they get rid of it?

  • Do not plug your device into a computer or other device to avoid spreading the virus.
  • Run your anti-virus application if you have one to detect any viruses installed onto your phone.
  • Close any open applications and try restarting your device. Then look to uninstall the application you believe to be suspicious.
  • Bring your device to a professional or call your provider if the problem persists.
Michael Singer Product Marketing Management AVP AT&T About Michael