FBI warns users of mobile malware

In a warning issued by a government task force, mobile users are told to beware of malware that is especially lured to Android's operating system and ways to avoid it.

As mobile malware increases at break-neck speed, the U.S. government wants to be sure users are aware of its dangers. The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), which is a government task force that includes the FBI, issued a mobile malware warning on Friday.

"The IC3 has been made aware of various malware attacking Android operating systems for mobile devices," the warning said. "Some of the latest known versions of this type of malware are Loozfon and FinFisher."

The IC3 said that Loozfon lures its victims by sending them e-mails with links promising "a profitable payday just for sending out email," then embeds itself onto the phone when the link is clicked. This malware steals information from users. FinFisher, on the other hand, is spyware and can take over the components of a smartphone. According to the IC3, this malware is also installed via a bogus e-mail link or text message.

While Loozfon is a threat to U.S. users, it's a bigger problem in Japan, according to The Next Web; and FinFisher attacks not only Android devices but also devises running iOS, BlackBerry, Symbian, and Windows Mobile as well.

Security reports over the last year have shown that mobile malware is on the rise. According to a report by McAfee last month, malware is multiplying at a faster pace now than any other time in the last four years. Android tends to be cybercriminals' favorite target and users are getting an increasing mix of SMS-sending malware, mobile botnets, spyware, and destructive Trojans.

Google is aware of this and new features on its latest Android mobile OS -- Jelly Bean 4.1 -- aim to beef up the system's security over past OS iterations. With Jelly Bean's design, Google hopes to defend against hacks that install viruses, along with other malware.

Despite this, mobile users are still concerned about malware leeching their private and personal information. According to a recent Pew survey, over half of U.S. mobile users are paranoid about their privacy and have either uninstalled or refused to install apps for this reason.

The IC3 outlines some tips for users to protect their mobile devices, which include operating system encryption, passcode protection, malware protection, making sure apps are from trusted sources, being aware of apps that geolocate, and avoiding connecting to unknown wireless networks.

In short, the IC3 says, "Use the same precautions on your mobile phone as you would on your computer when using the Internet."

 

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