Infographic: Protect Yourself From the Threat of Mobile Malware

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With smartphones sales growing year-over-year for several years so, too, is the development of malware and other malicious programs designed to attack the vulnerabilities of these phones. "Do you think it's safe to access sensitive data on your mobile phone? Perhaps you should think again," begins the introduction to this new infographic about mobile malware from Bullguard. "With malicious programs designed to target cell phones skyrocketing, it's becoming increasingly dangerous to use your phone without the necessary precautions. Here's how to prevent malware from taking over your phone ... and your life."

Infographics are always a bit of a hodgepodge of statistics culled from a variety of sources. Here, we sort through the clutter and pull out some of our favorite facts and figures:

  • What is mobile malware? Malware is software with a malicious purpose. It may be designed to disable your phone, remotely control your device, or steal valuable information. Mobile malware uses the same techniques as PC malware to infect mobile devices.
  • Some real dangers of malware: Private information is captured, phone data is deleted, device is 'bricked' and needs replacing, malware-infected devices can be used by botnet owners to launch attacks on digital targets, the phone is forced to send messages to premium numbers, bank account passwords are stolen.
  • Smartphones are mini computers that are being used for many of the same functions as traditional PCs: connecting to the Internet, banking and more. Like computers, smartphones are also vulnerable to hacking, malware and viruses. Considering that 35 percent of American adults own smartphones, the devices are becoming a rich potential target for hackers and malware developers.
  • Malware for Android has skyrocketed 400 percent in the six months between June 2010 and January 2011. It's the fastest-growing mobile operating system with more than 500,000 Android phones activated daily. Android malware has affected up to 250,000 users.
  • Ten percent of iPhone users use 0000 or 1234 as their password, making it easy to hack the devices. Jailbreaking puts other iPhone users at risk for downloaded infected or fake apps. Jailbreaking techniques usually leave iPhones with a standard rooy password that may grant device admin-level access to an attacker.
  • More than half (53 percent) of smartphone users say that they are unaware of security software for their devices. Do: Use a personal firewall, turn off Bluetooth and other connections when not in use, install a mobile security app, use a strong password, make sure to check the feedback from other users before installing new programs from an app store, download apps from reputable sites.

Check out more Infographics on the Technology Channel.

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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