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McAfee’s Top Five Tips to Avoid Downloading Bad Apps onto Your Mobile Devices

McAfee today released its list of top five tips to help consumers avoid downloading bad apps onto their mobile devices.

As we continue to see new mobile devices hitting the market in time for the holiday season, consumers find themselves faced with many great gift choices they can buy for themselves or loved ones. One of the first inclinations for consumers who receive these gifts is to search for and download as many fun and interesting apps as possible. Amidst this excitement, they often forget to consider best practices that will ensure that they don’t download malicious apps that can steal their personal and financial information. McAfee’s list of top five tips is aimed at raising awareness and cultivating safe usage habits to help consumers avoid falling prey to cybercriminals.

McAfee Releases Top Five Tips to Avoid Downloading Bad Apps Maliciously Modified Apps Becoming Popular Vector for Infecting Devices

MARKHAM, Ontario, Nov. 14, 2011 – In response to the increasing interest in mobile applications, McAfee is sharing its top five tips to avoid downloading bad apps. Due to the fact that smartphones and tablets have eclipsed unit sales of desktop and laptop PCs, cybercriminals have set their sights on mobile and maliciously modified apps, and these are becoming a more popular vector for infecting devices. Furthermore, according to a recent Leger Marketing survey commissioned by McAfee Canada, only 21.6 per cent of Canadians believe they are protected from the increasing number of threats on the Internet.1 As a result, this has created the perfect breeding ground for mobile malware, and McAfee Labs is seeing significant growth in this threat landscape. Fortunately, there are some common sense practices that anyone can take to help protect their smartphones and tablets from the growing threat of malware and the persistent threat of unsecured devices.

Here are five easy steps device users can take to secure their own devices:

  • For the moment, the amount of detected smartphone malware is relatively low compared to malware that targets desktop or laptop PCs, but being aware that it exists is the first step toward protecting yourself and your data.
  • Always research apps and their publishers thoroughly and check their ratings – it is better to install apps that are broadly used in the market and/or are recommended by your circle of friends and colleagues
  • It is wise to purchase from a well-known reputable app store market, such as the Android Market. One way for Android users to avoid installation of non-market applications is to de-select the “Unknown sources” option in the Applications Settings menu on their device.  If the option is not listed, it means the mobile service provider has already done this for the user.
  • When installing an app, users see a list of permissions for services that are granted access to the hardware and software components of the device, like contacts, camera and location. If something in the permissions screen doesn’t look right, don’t install that app! For example, a game or alarm clock app probably shouldn’t need to access your contacts or have the ability to transmit that data from your device.
  • Antivirus software is paramount to ensuring security on a mobile device.  It is a good idea to install an antivirus program on a new device before adding any other apps.

According to the Gartner report, “Forecast: Mobile Application Stores, Worldwide, 2008-2015,” May 18, 2011 (G00212661), 17.7 billion mobile apps are estimated to be downloaded in 2011 (a 115% increase from 2010). By 2012, mobile apps are projected to generate more than $15 billion in app store revenues from end-users alone.

“As the application market continues to boom, users should be more cautious that they know what they’re installing,” said Lawrence Pingree, Gartner analyst. “For example, they should only install applications from trusted sources and ensure that permissions match up with the respective application’s core features. Anti-malware protection will also go a long way in helping to ensure the user’s mobile device has the latest protection.”

“Maliciously modified apps have started to become more prevalent,” said Vincent Weafer, senior vice president, McAfee Labs. “Based on McAfee detections, we’ve seen approximately 200 malicious apps versus tens of thousands of good apps. However, with mobile devices becoming a targeted platform for malware, it’s becoming more common for cybercriminals to attempt to corrupt a legitimate app. The best advice for users is to be careful, protect the mobile device and the mobile apps that reside on the device.”

McAfee Mobile Security combines powerful anti-malware, anti-theft and web safety features, and is available for Android smartphones and tablets as well as BlackBerry and Symbian smartphones. McAfee has also recently released McAfee® App Alert™ software, an app that secures and preserves the user’s privacy by providing intelligence about the apps on their Android device. The software individually analyzes and grades each app to show the device owner how they access, store and transmit their personal data. McAfee App Alert (beta) is currently available at no cost on the Android Market.

Additional Resources

1 The online survey of 1,500 Canadians, 18 years of age or older, was completed over the period May 24 – 26, 2011 by Leger Marketing. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/-2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

About McAfee

McAfee, a wholly owned subsidiary of Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC), is the world’s largest dedicated security technology company. McAfee delivers proactive and proven solutions and services that help secure systems, networks, and mobile devices around the world, allowing users to safely connect to the Internet, browse and shop the Web more securely. Backed by its unrivaled Global Threat Intelligence, McAfee creates innovative products that empower home users, businesses, the public sector and service providers by enabling them to prove compliance with regulations, protect data, prevent disruptions, identify vulnerabilities, and continuously monitor and improve their security.

McAfee is relentlessly focused on constantly finding new ways to keep our customers safe.

McAfee Canada is headquartered in Markham, Ontario, with regional offices across Canada. The company’s Consumer Software Research and Development facility is based in Waterloo, Ontario.

Note: McAfee and App Alert are registered trademarks of McAfee, or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others. © 2011 McAfee All rights reserved. The product plans, specifications and descriptions herein are provided for information only, subject to change without notice, and without warranty of any kind, express or implied.