Protecting your phone from hackers

Mobile Malware: How hackers are getting into your smartphones

By Jim Cavanaugh - Photographer

Computer viruses can rob us of both performance and personal information.  Now, that elusive software is infiltrating our mobile devices. 

The problem is, identifying a malware infection is not easy. On the surface, an infected device looks identical to a healthy phone or tablet. That malicious code runs in the background, and could be stealing personal information.

[WEB EXTRAS: Android Encryption Steps | iCloak link ]

"Any kind of software like that that can install on a laptop or a desktop system, can make it onto a portable device also," said Eric Delisle, CEO and founder of iCloak.

So how does malware get there? Delisle said you are probably letting it in.

"The weak link in security is always the human being," said Delisle. 

He said much like on a computer, phishing attacks are the number one threat.

"If they can trick a user into clicking on something they shouldn't click on, it's the most common way for people to be infected with something," said Delisle.

What many may not know, Delisle told News 6, is that even listening to a song or viewing a picture can let in malware.

"What really brilliant hackers have done is written software that will be included in something that is normally safe," said Delisle. "So like an mp3 file or a song, they'll actually write their code so that it appends, or creates a little segment of code that's not part of the song, but it's encoded in the file."

New phones come with restrictions that only allow approved apps to be installed.  But for those who are tech savvy, there's a way around that-- jailbreaking. That process opens the door to hundreds of third party apps.  But Delisle said those apps that may be infected.

"Those places don't have to be vetting it for security and quite frankly, a lot of them are the bad guys themselves, giving you the software," said Delisle.

Prianca Reza argued that jailbreaking her phone actually made it more secure.

"The main reason I jailbroke my phone was to put passwords onto my apps, so not only would you need a password to get into my phone, but you would need a password to get into my apps as well,” said Reza.

Still, Delisle said it's better to be safe than sorry.

So how can we protect our phones?

Step one: Avoid suspicious links.

"If you see something on the internet and you want it for your phone, my recommendation," said Delisle,  "is go to the legitimate store that should vet all these tools, so if it's on Android, go to Google Play, and look for the app there.  if you don't find it there, there's a problem."

Step two: Lock your screen. A consumer reports study revealed that 39 percent of smartphone users don't lock their screens.

Step three: Enable encryption on your mobile device.

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