Think before you download

Are you downloading your favourite game or a particular application that allows you to share pictures, videos and information? These days, we have various gaming applications and individual developers coming out with unique and interesting downloadable applications. But, you need to make sure you are not inviting virus to disrupt your mobile handset. You should know that Internet/ mobile applications, if certified, can be trusted; if not, they can hamper your mobile data.

Worms, trojans, viruses and hackers – they not just threaten for your home PC or laptop anymore. As per Trend Micro, an Internet security firm, cyber crooks are on their way into your pocket. The popularity of smartphones like the Blackberry, iPhone and the emerging Droid is on a boom and that’s making them a lucrative target for cyber crooks to cause mischief.

The possibility of someone hacking cellphone became public knowledge when Paris Hilton’s mobile was hacked. Unfortunately for her, numbers of all her celebrity friends were also placed on the Internet – resulting in a barrage of calls to each of them. This was one of the highlighted cases of phone hacking through extracting personal information from the mobile handset.

The ingenuity of cyber criminals to come up with new social engineering angles seems endless. Mobile worms and viruses are similar to those that infect PCs. An unsuspecting user can be tricked into installing a harmless-looking file that infects a device and seeks additional mobile phones to target, often disrupting the phone’s operations.

What can a mobile hacker do? There are quite a number of things that can be done by the mobile hacker. Depending on intent, their main targets are:

Steal your number: Your phone number can be accessed and obtained by hacking. This allows them to make calls and have it charged on your account.

Extract your information: Mobile hacking allows a hacker to contact your cellphone, without your knowledge, and to download your addresses and other information you might have on your phone. Many hackers are not content to just getting your information. Some will even change all your phone numbers! Be sure that you keep a backup of your information somewhere. All you have to do is to ensure that the handset is malware-protected. Here are some quick and easy points a user should keep in mind when downloading applications on mobile phones.

First, identify the source from where you are downloading the application. A general community site that does not have any face is not contactable. For example, download.com is the worst place to get the software from. You can download applications like our P2P software on your mobile.

Check the software for security certificates. Try not to use any unsigned application. These are third-party signatures from Verisign, Symbian and Sun. Absence of any trusted signature can make the application very dangerous. The only warning that you will get is when you install and load the application. So, go for trusted applications.

Once the signature is there, visit the company site to verify application that you have downloaded. Check for warnings, known bugs and the functions that it would provide. This may help you understand the resources the application will take, such as memory, CPU, etc. Applications like file share, Voip, etc use some core OS functionality. In case of a bug, such an application can disrupt other functionalities of the phone.

Social media-based applications that download the files can also bring in a virus-infected file to your handset. In such a case, one should have some anti-virus software installed in the system or the application should check for MIME-type before it allows the download of the content. But, make sure that you protect your handset with anti-virus software to ensure that even if by chance you have downloaded a non-trusted application, security solution providers like Trend Micro or McAfee have anti-virus solutions for you.

Check for your data plan before you start to use an application that uses some sort of data transfers. An application like mBit p2p can generate huge data transfers. The user is advised to get in touch with the customer care to identify an appropriate plan for it. The user can tell the customer support about the desired application and an appropriate plan for the same.

Follow these simple steps and you’ll ahve a happy downloading session. So, treat your smart phones like your laptops or computers, and not a landline phone.

 The writer is CEO, mBit infotech

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