Android users should be wary of application downloads

November 7, 2012

Mobile devices provide professionals with the ability to collaborate on projects with co-workers and complete assignments from anywhere. Although using smartphones or tablets to conduct business offers employees multiple benefits, there has been a rise in the number of cybercriminals targeting mobile devices. People must take preventative measures to protect confidential information from hackers.

Some applications vulnerable to phishing schemes
According to Threat Post, a researcher at the North Carolina State University has uncovered a new vulnerability in some devices that are made by the Android Open-Source Project - the group that develops many of the phones. Xuxian Jiang found that malicious applications may send SMS messages without authorization. The source reported that hackers are not currently exploiting this vulnerability, however, it may be easy for cybercriminals to build a similar version of the malware. 

Jiang said that the vulnerability cannot leak information from personal devices, but it can allow for hackers to send phishing attacks. Because the threat does not need users to agree to permissions, a cybercriminal can make it seem as if a contact from the victim's address book sent a message asking for personal information, according to the source.

A leading security firm said that 200 applications in the Google Play store are able to send SMS phishing messages if a hacker exploits the vulnerability, Computerworld reported. Google is currently working on a patch to fix this issue.

Ways to protect personal files
Android users should take preventative measures to block cybercriminal attempts. Before installing an application, consumers should read reviews and note the number of downloads to determine if it is safe. They should also be wary of any texts that ask for personal data.  Experts recommend employing strong passwords and installing network security software that scan mobile devices for threats.

-McAfee Cloud Security