As the Internet has become the dominant means of communicating, sharing information, tending to business, storing data, and maintaining records in the Digital Age, the importance of security for the digital world has become more and more realized (Zhang et al., 2017). Not only do companies have to invest in digital security in order to safeguard against threats and risks such as hacking or malware, but individuals also have to be cognizant of the threats to their personal information and property now that all things are online. This is particularly important for people to consider given that so many individuals today carry around pocket computers in the form of a mobile phone—an iPhone, a smart phone, a tablet, an iPad—all of these devices require mobile protection as they can link up to and connect to the Internet wherever one goes (so long as one is within range of service, of course). Cybercriminals are ready and willing to attack one’s mobile devices to steal data, passwords, personal information, emails—anything that can be obtained through an unsecured network. For that reason, one must be extra cautious in today’s world.
One cannot expect, for example, free security apps to safeguard against all forms of malware. Zhou, Wang, Zhou and Jiang (2012) conducted an experiment in which they downloaded 204,040 apps from five different Android Markets in May-June 2011. Over the more than two hundred thousand apps they downloaded, there were 211 with malicious malware on them: 32 came from the official Android Market, or 0.02% of the apps were infectious and 179 of them came from other online marketplaces, with an infectious rate of around 0.35% overall. Thus, no matter where one is downloading one’s apps from, one should be aware that there is a risk of downloading an app that contains malware that can infect one’s phone, tablet or laptop and that can proceed to harvest information or control one’s computer. That risk may be lower than 1% but there is still a risk—and one should always be aware of the risks for the sake of security.
Best practices for downloading apps can be to review the app extensively before downloading it. But even that is not a surefire way, as many apps on Google Play have been found to be infected by malware in recent years (Bird, 2017). The Android model of security, which is based on the isolation model, does essentially leave it up to users to determine the security of an app that is being downloaded (Delac et al., 2011).
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However, being wary of downloading an app that does not have any reviews or that has been reviewed negatively by almost all downloaders is not a sufficient method of protecting oneself from downloading a dangerous app. Although the Internet is full of information and people are always willing to share, taking a few moments to review what users online are saying about a specific app before taking the risk of downloading it does not provide a sufficiently sophisticated line of defense. Even if it is a popular app that has been downloaded many thousands of times by users, the risk of it containing malware may be lower—but this is not a good way of managing risk when it comes to safeguarding one’s mobile devices.
It is better to install malware detection on mobile devices to ensure that one is able to protect against attack—and not just guess about whether one is at risk (Zhou et al., 2012). Seo, Gupta, Sallam, Bertino and Yim (2014) show that one must use malware detection to protect information on mobile devices—otherwise one is simply not being safe: it is like driving without a seatbelt at 90 mph down an icy road in the dark of night without lights. Likewise, Ahmadi, Sotgiu and Giacinto (2018) show that IntelliAV, a system they developed, can act as a learning-based anti-malware.
Bird (2017) showed that of the many different types of malware found on Google Play, one of the worst was ExpensiveWall, which would send out text messages and charge people for services even if the person did not want them. At least 50 apps were discovered on Google Play to be infected with this malware. Delac, Silic and Krolo (2011) found that worms, Trojan horses and other viruses are commonly installed on phones via the downloading of harmful or infected apps.
Ways of protecting against infection are built-in to Android phones, which operate on a Linux kernel and use an isolation model (Delac et al., 2011), but this comes with its own issues and difficulties, as it reduces the effectiveness of an app. The shared user ID application permits mobile devices to share information, which makes them vulnerable to security threats, hacking, malware, spyware….....
Ahmadi, M., Sotgiu, A., & Giacinto, G. (2018). IntelliAV: Building an Effective On-Device Android Malware Detector. arXiv preprint arXiv:1802.01185.
Bird, D. (2017). Mobile Threat. ITNOW, 59(4), 46-47.
Delac, G., Silic, M., & Krolo, J. (2011, May). Emerging security threats for mobile platforms. In MIPRO, 2011 Proceedings of the 34th International Convention (pp. 1468-1473). IEEE.
Seo, S. H., Gupta, A., Sallam, A. M., Bertino, E., & Yim, K. (2014). Detecting mobile malware threats to homeland security through static analysis. Journal of Network and Computer Applications, 38, 43-53.
Zhang, Y., Chen, X., Li, J., Wong, D. S., Li, H., & You, I. (2017). Ensuring attribute privacy protection and fast decryption for outsourced data security in mobile cloud computing. Information Sciences, 379, 42-61.
Zhou, Y., Wang, Z., Zhou, W., & Jiang, X. (2012). Hey, you, get off of my market: detecting malicious apps in official and alternative android markets. NDSS, 25(4), 50-52.