Smartphones powered by Google's Android operating system are susceptible to a growing number of malware attacks. The IC3, a partnership between the FBI and law enforcement support group the National White Collar Crime Center, has identified "Loozfon" and "FinFisher" as the latest known versions of this type of malware.
According to IC3, one way criminals disguise the Loozfon malware is as a "work-at-home" advertisement that promises money for simply sending out email. Once users click on the ad, they are directed to a site that adds the Loozfon malware onto their smartphone. The application then steals contact details from the user's address book as well as the device's phone number.
FinFisher, meanwhile, is spyware that can take over components of a mobile device, meaning infected smartphones can be remotely controlled and monitored by criminals -- no matter where they're located. This malware is commonly disguised as a link or a text about a system update, IC3 says.
In addition to downloading virus software from a reputable vendor such as Norton, the FBI offers these five basic tips to keep your Android smartphone safe from malware:
1. Use encryption. Some types of Android phones come with encryption capabilities. Find out if yours does. Encryption can be used to protect your personal data in the case of loss or theft. If your phone doesn't include encryption, there are alternatives, such as the WhisperCore app from Whisper Systems, which was acquired by Twitter last year. Also consider adding a password to unlock your device.
2. Know your app developers. When using your smartphone's app market, carefully examine reviews of the developer who created the application you want to download. Also be sure to understand the permissions you are giving when you download it. Some apps request access to information such as your location and your contacts.
3. Only use secure W-Fi networks. Don't use your smartphone to connect to unknown wireless networks. Hackers can use unprotected Wi-Fi networks to capture information passed between your device and a server.
4. Think hard before 'jailbreaking' or 'rooting' your smartphone. Unlocking your phone essentially removes restrictions from device manufacturers, allowing users to install any type of program they want. This can significantly increase security vulnerabilities, the IC3 says.
5. Wipe all data and apps before you sell your phone. If you decide to sell your device or trade it in, reset it to the factory default. This can help avoid leaving any of your personal information on the device.