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Mobile Malware Surges: Do You Know The Signs?

McAfee recently announced it detected 16 million mobile malware infections in the third quarter of 2017 alone. That is twice as many infections as it found in the third quarter of 2016.

One malware campaign, called Garbos, contained in 144 apps on the Google Play Store, infected around 17.5 million devices before Google removed the infected apps. 

According to McAfee's Mobile Threat Report for Q1 2018, cybercriminals can now earn one to two million dollars per ad click fraud, pay-per-download, or prevalent banking trojan scam. In 2010, the highest paid malware campaigns brought in approximately $100,000 to $300,000. In 2018, pay-per-download scams alone will earn cybercriminals around $40 billion.

If this trend continues, a malware strain could bring in a billion dollars for its creators by 2020. Since cybercrime pays so well, cybersecurity experts predict that we will continue to see growing numbers of malware infections. Phil Muncaster "Mobile Malware Infections Hit 16 Million in Q3," (Feb. 26, 2018).


Knowing how to spot malware and what to do to remove it is essential for minimizing the damage from cybercrime.

Signs of a malware infection include the following:

  • Slowing down or crashing more than normal;
  • Displaying frequent error messages;
  • Failing to shut down or restart;
  • Displaying numerous pop-up messages;
  • Opening web pages you did not type in;
  • Sending emails you did not write;
  • New toolbars showing up unexpectedly;
  • New icons appearing in your shortcuts or on your desktop unexpectedly;
  • Your internet home page changing suddenly and repeatedly;
  • Your laptop battery draining more quickly than normal;
  • Pop-up windows claiming to scan your computer for viruses and finding an unrealistically large number;
  • Your screen turning black and start menu and desktop icons disappearing;
  • Black screens opening and closing when you start up your computer;
  • Emails being returned with virus warnings; or
  • Your computer performing a strange activity that you did not tell it to do.

If an organizational computer or device gets infected, it is essential for the user to take quick action to prevent malware from spreading to the entire network. Train employees to immediately disconnect from the internet if they notice any of the above warning signs. Leave the device turned on for the IT professional.

Require employees to keep operating systems and security software updated on all computers and devices. They must use passwords that are long with alpha-numeric characters.

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