A GUEST POST FROM BITDEFENDER MOBILE SECURITY
Android malware is spreading at a dizzying pace, posing a threat to millions of smartphone users worldwide and attracting criminals with dreams of untold illicit wealth. In the second half of 2012 alone, Bitdefender found, malware spiked 292 percent from the first half.
Android malware is also becoming harder to detect for the average smartphone user who pays little attention to security as criminals learn to cover their tracks.
Fortunately, most malware creators are not rocket scientists – and a user doesn’t have to be a computer scientist to combat them. A few signs can alert users to an infected device:
1. Racked-Up Phone Bills
Android malware often infects devices and starts sending SMS messages to premium-rated numbers. While its effects are easily seen in your phone bill, not all Trojans are so greedy. They may sometimes send an SMS message once a month to avoid suspicions, or they may uninstall themselves after punching a serious hole in your budget.
Whether using a monthly plan or a pay-as-you-go subscription, it should be easy to figure out such message-sending malware has found its way onto a device.
2. Data Plan Spikes
Malware that smuggles data from your device to a third party can often be detected by an examination of your data plan bill. Significant changes in your download or upload patterns could be a sign that someone, or something, has control over your device.
Setting up data meter quotas might help figure out if a device has been compromised by data-broadcasting malware. It will also help dodge high phone bills.
3. Battery Drain
Android users who don’t compulsively install apps or perform other battery-straining activities have a good idea of how long their battery should last. Malware can give itself away because batteries drain quicker than usual with such e-threats installed.
Either hiding in plain sight by pretending to be a regular application or staying hidden from prying eyes, abnormal battery drainage is usually a malware footprint.
4. Performance Clogging
Depending on device hardware specifications, malware infestation may cause serious performance problems as it tries to read, write, or broadcast data. Performance clogging is yet another sign that malware might be present on your device.
Checking RAM (Random Access Memory) use or CPU load could reveal the presence of malware that’s actively running on the device.
5. Dropped Calls and Disruptions
Mobile malware could affect ongoing or incoming calls. Dropped calls or strange disruptions during a conversation might reveal the existence of mobile malware that’s interfering.
If carriers are not to be blamed for poor service, then some strand of mobile malware could be blamed. Calling service providers and clarifying whether the issue is at their end, should be a priority – if they’re not having problems, someone or something may be trying to eavesdrop on conversations or perform other activities.
Stay Safe and be Mindful
Staying safe from any type of malware is as easy as installing mobile security software that offers around-the-clock protection. Trusting antivirus software to keep your device safe from intrusions should be a top priority. The harm that malware can cause should never be underestimated.
A wise move it to scrutinize every permission an Android app asks of the user – many apps ask for invasive permissions when they don’t need them at all.
The Android builds most targeted by malware are the common ones – Gingerbread, Ice Cream Sandwich, and Jelly Bean. Some 87.4 percent of Android users at risk from malware are using one of these builds, according to the Android Developer Dashboard. Users of these builds should remain extra vigilant.