Security experts have always warned that risks constantly hound an online lifestyle and mobile computing is not spared from the ever-present threats that come with the expanding ecosystems.
However, the likelihood of encountering security breaches is further heightened in the Android environment, according to a recent online security advisory issued by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
To simplify its warning, especially for users moving around in Google's Android mobile computing realm, the ecosystem, according to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Centre (IC3) virtually acts as sanctuary for malware authors aiming to take advantage of the weak security firewall safeguarding million of active Android handsets out there.
"The IC3 has been made aware of various malware attacking Android operating systems for mobile devices," Fortune reported the FBI division as saying on Monday.
The focus of hacking target at the moment are Android smartphones, mainly due to the huge numbers of global users attuned to the dominant mobile phone ecosystem, and cyber criminals intend to surreptitiously infect and take over control of devices, the IC3 warning said.
"Some of the latest known versions of this type of malware are Loozfon and FinFisher," the IC3 advisory added.
Authors of these malware dispatch them as deceptive and harmless looking mobile apps or website links that when installed or accessed by smartphone owners open the gateway for cyber misfits to steal data or even hijack Android gadgets.
Android handset owners, however, can still establish reputable protection between them and unscrupulous hackers, preventing the latter from remotely having their ways.
One key measure that Android users should observe is to deploy the same protection they have on their PCs to their mobile devices. There has to be anti-virus and security firewall watching over on all offline and online activities conducted by mobile phone owners, the IC3 said.
That should be a good start but it also helps to take advantage of the inherent security features that Google and Android handset vendors install on their products. Pass code protection and screen lock offer some form of barrier that discourages theft, the FBI division said.
Users should also be familiarised on the full functions and features of their smartphones, the FBI said, so they will know when to use and not to use tools that come by default with the device.
For instance, geo-location apps have their economic advantages but users may end up on the receiving end of stalkers or burglars with the feature always on.
Beside the helpful security features offered by the Android ecosystem and Google's partner handset manufacturers, vigilance on the part of smartphone owners is likewise an important factor that could effectively fend off security breaches, the FBI said.
Among them are avoiding the use of unknown Wi-Fi networks, veering away from questionable websites and understanding fully all the applications that users would allow to resided on their gadgets, which also means that smartphone owners must ensure that they always install the latest and official available updates for softwares and firmwares.
Gadget and platform modification is also discouraged by the IC3, noting that such procedures strip the devices of all the restrictions implemented by their respective vendors and along with them the manufacturing companies' security blanket, rendering the device vulnerable to intrusions.
Finally, owners need to make sure that the smartphones they'll be giving away or selling must undergo the factory-reset procedure, a move that will surely protect users' privacy, the FBI advisory said.
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