“Wait, I didn’t buy that!”
That’s what many smartphone users have been saying lately, as a prevalent strain of malware has been infecting Android devices. The malware is called “toll fraud malware” and it’s been signing users up to services they don’t want.
This type of malware is especially tricky. Where ransomware is immediately in your face, demanding money in order to give you access back to your computer and data, toll fraud malware just spends your money without your consent.
It works by subscribing you to paid content and adding the charge to your phone bill. It might temporarily disconnect your device from Wi-Fi in order to force your phone to use the cellular network. It will also try to hide any one-time passwords, two-factor messages, and verification messages in order to keep its work hidden from you.
This isn’t an entirely new concept—toll fraud was a problem years ago that would affect users with dial-up internet connections, and it has made a few appearances over the years with the popularity of mobile phones. Microsoft, however, has issued a warning that toll fraud malware is becoming a very big problem for a lot of users.
To protect yourself, you need to be aware of what you install on your device. You can’t trust everything.
While Google and Apple both do a pretty good job at vetting applications, the system isn’t perfect. An app on a trusted app store isn’t always going to be safe to use.
Often malware is found on apps in popular categories found in the app store, like wallpaper and lock screen apps, or apps claiming to speed up your device or protect it from viruses. When you install an app on your phone, it will ask for permissions that don’t make sense (there’s no reason that your new wallpaper app needs to have access to SMS or notification listening privileges).
You do, however, want to avoid installing apps that aren’t on the Google Play Store. There’s an even higher chance that an app that isn’t on the Play Store might be dangerous.
It’s all about being careful. Don’t install things that you don’t really need, and if you are having an issue with a device, have someone take a look at it. An application usually isn’t going to improve the performance of a device, but if you feel like you need to speed up an older device, a professional can help you determine the best way to do that, if it’s possible.
You can also look at reviews for the app, and take your time reading the app description and information about the developer. If something seems suspicious, it’s worth scrutinizing. If you are having an issue with any technology, don’t hesitate to give us a call at (254) 848-7100.