In the last year, they were all downloaded at least half a million times and they were all yanked from the Google Play Store after they were found to contain hidden pornographic malware. They were just the most popular among a group of 60 mobile gaming apps pulled from the store after their malicious intent was discovered, but they are hardly a unique attack vector in the world of cybersecurity.
Webroot has analyzed more than 62 million mobile apps to determine their impact on smartphone security and, in 2017 alone, nearly a third (32%) were determined to be malicious.
Although mobile—not exactly a moving target
The smartphone isn't the only unlucky recipient of mobile attacks—the tablet is just as susceptible to Trojans, worms, and rootkits.
Once the object of reproach and tepid Yoda-esque statements like "Insanely great it is not," tablets are clearly now here to stay. The widespread adoption on the tablet, while a boon for device manufacturers, also means they've caught the attention of enterprising cybercriminals.
The thing is, up until now, mobile devices have flown under the threat radar with PCs mainly taking the bulk of the abuse. As a result, many smartphone and tablet users give little thought to the risks that lurk behind deceivingly harmless apps. But that way of thinking needs to change—quickly.
Just ask the millions of unfortunates who just couldn't pass up apps like Five Nights Survival Craft and Mcqueen Car Racing and awoke to a nasty strain of malware with the equally nasty name AdultSwine.
In addition to surreptitiously downloading pornographic content along with games aimed at children, the malware strain also sought to steal sensitive login credentials from unsuspecting (often underage) users.
The best way to keep your wireless gadgets safe...
Listen, it's not a surprise that smartphones and tablets are no safer from invasions than computers. A digital device is a digital device, regardless of its size and portability. The upside is that there are a number of ways you can protect yourself, thereby bypassing the dreaded facepalm moment.
Of course, it's imperative that you carefully read reviews, ratings, and permissions for suspect information. People often skip this step when caught in the feverish throes of app acquisition.
And you should always verify that your software comes from a reputable market. When searching for an app (foodie, pet, T-Pain-inspired auto tuner—whatever your poison), make sure it comes from a trustworthy store like Amazon, Verizon, iTunes or Android.
Take it one step further and visit the developer's website. If it looks even slightly shady, mosey along to a safer app.
But the best way to protect your privacy, finances and mobile gadgets is to use mobile security software.
Why wouldn't you treat your smartphone and tablet with the same TLP (i.e., tender loving protection) that you give your computer?
Try the free Webroot Mobile Security app for Android. Think of it as the über app—malware's ultimate arch nemesis. It scans your gadget quickly and won't drain the battery, leaving you plenty of juice to play Angry Birds for eons.
The security app also keeps you safe by:
Blocking both known and unknown callers
Remotely locking your device if it's been lost or stolen
Automatically updating the antivirus software
Screaming at you—yes, screaming (If gremlins have a habit of hiding your phone, the app will "scream" an alert so you can locate the device.)
If you're looking for extra protection like an app inspector and remote wiping capabilities, check out an affordable upgraded version at a BestBuy near you.
Either way, let Webroot take care of your security needs so you can spend more time enjoying your apps and not fighting them.