500,000+ devices have dangerous apps installed

At Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2017, connected cars, the future of smart homes and, of course, the newest handsets are top of the agenda. Intel Security’s latest findings show consumers are being tempted by the efficiency and entertainment of such connected devices, revealing the average British person now spends 35% of their time at home online.

dangerous apps installed

Despite leading increasingly connected lifestyles, half of Brits (50%) have no idea how to check if their connected devices have ever been compromised, and a further 32% said they were unsure how to check if devices had been breached.

People not only need to understand the security risks associated with laptops and tablets, but also with connected devices such as smart TVs, speakers and connected cars, and manufacturers must take responsibility for ensuring security is built in to the foundations of new products.

“Our recent research showed that more than three quarters of parents (79%) are concerned about their children interacting with a social predator or cybercriminal online,” comments Raj Samani, EMEA CTO of Intel Security. “Yet two fifths (40%) of parents do not keep track of their children’s Internet usage, and a third (29%) say that they would monitor their children’s online activity if there was an easier way of doing it.”

Dead apps can be deadly

It’s not just apps live in app stores that represent a risk. Telemetry data collected by McAfee Labs shows that more than 500,000 devices still have dead apps installed and are actively used. With more than 2 million apps in each of the major app stores, malicious apps find ways through the store curators initial quality-control process.

In the past year, more than 4,000 apps were removed from Google Play, without notification to users. These users and the organisations they work for are still exposed to any vulnerabilities, privacy risks, or malware contained in these dead apps.

One recent example is a password stealer, distributed on Google Play as a variety of utilities and tools to acquire Instagram followers or analyse usage. The malware leads the user to a phishing website with a simple design that makes it difficult to distinguish between the legitimate and the fake, easily capturing users’ credentials.

“To avoid losing personal data to dead apps, consumers need to pay close attention to the apps they’ve downloaded and research the developer and reviews about any app before installing it,” comments Raj Samani. “They should also look for a security tool that can identify apps which are no longer on the store and, even better, can provide some information on why they were removed.”

Protecting your personal data

Intel Security’s top tips for protecting your personal data:

Lock down your devices. Our devices are like an extension of our bodies. It’s imperative that they are locked down with a strong PIN code, as well as complex and unique passwords to prevent unauthorized access. Use a multi-factor authentication (MFA) solution, like True Key by Intel Security that will combine your strong passwords with an extra layer of security – like your fingerprint or facial recognition.

Keep your devices updated. Be sure to update your devices when new versions of the operating system or applications become available. Updates often include critical security fixes designed to patch and protect from attacks.

Take control of your home network. Setting up a guest Wi-Fi network allows visitors to access the internet but keeps your home network private and isolated from their devices. You can also separate your IoT devices (smart home devices, wearables, etc.) from traditional connected devices (laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.) where more secure information is stored, so if an IoT devices is compromised, the breach will be limited to devices connected to the guest network.

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