As we move forward into the New Year 2012, new mobile devices continue hitting the market.

And one of the first inclinations for buyers of mobile devices is to search for and download as many fun and interesting apps as possible.  However, they often forget to consider best practices that will ensure that they don’t download malicious apps that can steal their personal and financial information.

According to McAfee:

  • smartphones and tablets have eclipsed unit sales of desktop and laptop PCs
  • thus, cybercriminals have set their sights on mobile and maliciously modified apps, and these are becoming a more popular vector for infecting devices
  • only 21.6 per cent of Canadians believe they are protected from the increasing number of threats on the Internet, according to a recent Leger Marketing survey commissioned by McAfee Canada
  • McAfee Labs observe significant growth of mobile malware

Here is McAfee’s list of top five tips to help consumers avoid downloading bad apps onto their mobile devices:

  • For the moment, the amount of detected smartphone malware is relatively low compared to malware that targets desktop or laptop PCs, but being aware that it exists is the first step toward protecting yourself and your data.
  • Always research apps and their publishers thoroughly and check their ratings – it is better to install apps that are broadly used in the market and/or are recommended by your circle of friends and colleagues
  • It is wise to purchase from a well-known reputable app store market, such as the Android Market. One way for Android users to avoid installation of non-market applications is to de-select the “Unknown sources” option in the Applications Settings menu on their device.  If the option is not listed, it means the mobile service provider has already done this for the user.
  • When installing an app, users see a list of permissions for services that are granted access to the hardware and software components of the device, like contacts, camera and location. If something in the permissions screen doesn’t look right, don’t install that app! For example, a game or alarm clock app probably shouldn’t need to access your contacts or have the ability to transmit that data from your device.
  • Antivirus software is paramount to ensuring security on a mobile device.  It is a good idea to install an antivirus program on a new device before adding any other apps.

So, another New Year resolution for you as a mobile device user is “cultivating safe usage habits” to avoid falling prey to cybercriminals.

Please click here for more info about protecting your smartphones and tablets from the growing threat of malware and the persistent threat of unsecured devices.

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