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Technology  14, Jul 2014

Here are some tips on protecting your smartphone from cyberterrorism

Trend Micro Singapore’s Senior Director on how one can keep their mobile devices safe from identity theft

In this day and age, mobile phones and tablets are an essential part of a business person’s life, that even a slight malware touch from an unsuspecting programme can mean life and death. This is especially true if you store your important numbers like passwords and bank account details onto it.

Trend Micro’s release of the free mobile app Dr. Safety is one of the company’s campaign in preventing mobile cyber-terrorism antics from these malwares and trojans. Furthermore, it has also formed the Safe Gaming Alliance together with big companies like gumi Asia, thanks to this year’s Casual Connect Asia, where the cloud security company met up with various Asian game companies.

Its current aim is to make this real threat aware among unwary smartphone and tablet users in the Southeast Asian region, said Trend Micro Singapore’s Senior Director Terrence Tang. “(With our partners), we want to give users peace of mind. We are even working with local ODMs (phone makers) like Advan in Indonesia,” he added.

So what are the best and simple ways to prevent your phone from being a hotbed of cyber-criminal activities? How can you protect your valuable startup data from hackers and thieves? The answers aren’t as complex, especially if it’s from a company that takes online threats seriously.

Also Read: This startup will never let you pay for mobile recharge again

 

Be wary of repackaged apps using popular names

Games like Candy Crush Saga and Flappy Bird can be renamed and re-tuned so that it can purposely push ads and gather personal information. They may look like the real thing and may sound like legit aid apps to complement the original; to help the unwary get past certain levels of the game, if they will. The virus preys on those who want to get a quick victory in their free-to-play games.

Somehow they can make their way into online stores like the Apple Store due to the hacker’s skill in hiding the code well while bypassing filters. Tang said that users should just use their judgement in reading up reviews on the app’s page. “If the app has 10 or so downloads and have negative reviews, you may want to avoid it,” he cautioned.

 

Recognise the top viruses
Tang said the most common affliction an average mobile user gets is a ‘droid cleaner’, a new malware that works cross-platform. “When a user downloads the app, it steals information from its user. At the same time, it plants a malicious code into the system. Once the phone is plugged into a computer, the code runs and infects it. I hate to use the word, but it’s rather ingenious,” added Tang.

Other top viruses include Android backdoor virus ‘KSAPP’, identity stealers like ‘OPFAKE’ and ‘FAKEINST’ and the ‘OBAD’ malware that pester users to turn on their device’s administrator features so that it can infect it and let cyber-criminals remotely take over the phone. Most antivirus protection sites will have updated lists on what’s new and what’s trending in malwares and trojans. Tang said that consumers should at least take a look at them so that they’re slightly more educated about them.

 

Seals of quality help establish trust

While this may reek of corporate showboating, those seals from trusted companies do help earn trust from mobile users and gamers. As stated before, Trend Micro’s initiative with game publishers and developers, along with a support from its 20 additional partners just in Asia, gives it more credibility. “What separates us from major companies (like Norton and McAffee) is that we have a mobile game recommendations list,” said Tang, “(the list) has seals of approval to establish that trust to our users. The other brands only focus on general mobile security. Still, that doesn’t mean you should count them out.”

So what is next after the company’s mobile safety initiative? Tang said that moving forward, the company will talk to its partners on establishing business model after it’s gotten enough volume of downloads for its Dr. Safety app. Potential examples include revenue share, up-selling some features in the future via apps, and online advertising on a platform. This isn’t to say that the company will not innovate and just fall back on its security measures products, but it’s been around long enough to know that it needs to change its model to suit today’s erratic economy.

Jonathan Toyad

Jonathan Toyad

If you want an elaborate answer on who would win in a fight between Ultraman and Godzilla, Jonathan Toyad is your man. A six-year veteran in the game journalism industry, he did words and videos for outlets such as GameSpot, GameAxis, IGN and Stuff.TV. Fears coyotes and scorched earths.

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