Whilst most people are fully aware of the security threats they have to guard against with laptops and desktops, many people forget that your smartphone is effectively an extra computer that you carry with you at all times. If it is linked to your other systems, it can represent a vulnerable point which cybercriminals can use to access many areas that you thought were secure.
Many cybercriminals have designed malware specifically for attacking smartphones, and this can launch attacks that can overcharge your phone bill, steal your data, intercept your messages, launch phishing expeditions and spread false information to your contacts.
The majority of this type of malware is contained in apps that have been downloaded from third parties that enable hackers to read passwords, account details and other private information. Once it is on one device, it can often spread across others on a network.
Part of the problem is that it is too easy to get malicious apps onto app stores: with so many new apps being created every day, it is simply not possible for even the largest entities such as Google Play to check and test every single one, so sometimes the most innocent looking app, e.g. a weather forecast provider, can contain malware.
The first step in avoiding malware on your smartphone is to ensure that you only use reputable providers such as the Google Play Store. Not only does this minimize the risk of an app containing malware getting onto your phone, you are much more likely to be alerted to it and offered patches to protect against it once it is discovered.
You should also take the time to read user reviews before downloading an app to see if anyone has had problems with malware as a result of installing it.
Finally, as with all other forms of cybersecurity, make sure that your smartphone’s operating system is upgraded to the latest version as soon as it is available, that you have adequate and regularly updated software on your device, and that you don’t allow yourself to be tricked into downloading anything unless you are absolutely sure of its provenance and legitimacy.