Storing personal information on your device? Your privacy could be at risk

Storing personal information on your device? Your privacy could be at risk

Storing personal information on your device? Your privacy could be at risk

Are you storing your personal information on your smartphone or tablet? It may seem quite normal, but doing also may also expose your device to fraudulent websites and apps seeking to harvest your personal data.

45% of smartphone users and 61% of desktop and laptop users in the UK are storing their personal information on their devices.

While the risk to one’s personal information posed by third-party app stores is well-known, considering that such app stores lack basic anti-malware detection and quarantine features and thereby act as hubs for trojans, malware, ransomware and spyware, those downloading apps from official app stores and browsing on their smartphones are also at risk of data theft or malware infections.

Recently, security researchers discovered a number of apps on the Google Play Store that were being used by hackers as trojans to download and install additional apps without users’ permission. These apps abused the Google Play Accessibility Service and installed other malicious apps and programmes without being discovered by device owners.

Even though Google launched its Play Protect feature to scan apps for malware that were downloaded from the Play Store, the feature may still not be able to protect users from harmful apps that use the latest technologies to hide their malicious codes from anti-malware programmes.

For example, researchers at Check Point recently identified over 50 Android apps on the Play Store that contained a new malware variant named ExpensiveWall. Hackers behind the operation used advanced encryption codes to encrypt malicious codes within such apps to avoid detection by Google Play’s built-in anti-malware protections.

These apps were downloaded between 1 million and 4.2 million times by Android users across the world and once the malware infected new devices, it sent fraudulent premium SMS messages on users’ behalf and charged their accounts without their knowledge.

Considering that such threats exist and are becoming more menacing with the passage of time, storing too much personal information on smart devices, including smartphones, PCs, laptops or tablets, could expose users to data theft of malware intrusions.

A recent study commissioned by Bitdefender revealed that 45% of smartphone users and 61% of desktop and laptop users in the UK are storing their personal information on their devices. This is despite the fact that 49% of such users fear that hackers can either access or steal their identities from their devices.

What makes it worse for their security is that seven out of ten smartphone users changed their passwords over three months ago and four out of ten users don’t have a security solution installed, nor do they perform firmware updates for their devices. This may have to do with the fact that very few Android device makers pass on firmware updates to their customers despite such updates being made available by Google from time to time.

According to Bitdefender, as many as 643,476 new Android malware programs emerged in June alone and with many users downloading apps from third party app stores or visiting fraudulent websites either to download movies, music or e-books, the chances of such users getting infected by malware are quite high.

‘Having a mobile security solution that is able to protect both Android and iOS operating systems from these types of threats is vital, especially since half of all smartphone users keep their private information stored on these devices,’ said Bitdefender.

‘Whether it’s malware aiming for your data or other online threats targeting your credit card information or e-banking credentials, a mobile security solution that’s able to identify all these threats is essential for protecting your privacy and personal data,’ the firm added.

Copyright Lyonsdown Limited 2021

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