If you use a smartphone, do you know if you’re safe against today’s 12 million malware infections? This number is steadily growing and your mobile device may be at risk. 

Your mobile phone stores large amounts of personal data that you don’t want to fall into the hands of hackers. This includes information like your bank account, credit card, or sensitive work documents. 

What do you do if your phone is exposed? Are you wondering, “How can I protect my mobile devices from malware?” 

There are easy steps to take so that your phone is safe from dangerous hackers. Here’s a complete guide on mobile phone security and the top threats to watch out for this year. 

Five Mobile Security Threats to Watch out For

Whether you just bought a new smartphone or have been sticking with your sturdy iPhone 5, your device is always in danger of a cyber attack. Here are the top five mobile security threats that you’ll want to watch out for this year. 

1. SMS Banking Malware

A hacker wanting access to your bank account is no new threat, but now they’re sending out SMS malware to get your two-factor authentication code. This means that even if you safeguard with a two-step process, hackers can still access your personal information and wreak havoc. 

In order to do the job, SMS banking malware will sometimes masquerade as familiar messaging apps that you trust. When the malware requests permission to read SMS, you’re likely to approve it because you think it’s something safe. 

2. Trojan Droppers

Mobile device attacks aren’t always obvious. A Trojan dropper is malware that looks like a helpful app but is actually designed to download malicious software onto your phone. They account for almost 97% of Android malware attacks

These are particularly hard to catch because a Trojan dropper can install its malware program and then delete itself off of your phone. When this happens, the malware can get buried deep into your phone’s software.  

3. Adware

The goal of adware is to earn revenue by forcing you to interact with pop-up ads. It’s usually delivered by an app that’s infected and will flood your phone with constant ads.

When the adware is well designed, the ads can pop up outside of the infected app. This means it can be hard to pinpoint where the malware is coming from. 

4. Miner Trojans

Miner Trojans are designed to take over your phone’s processor to mine crypto-currency at your expense. It’s gaining in popularity with today’s phones because they make a higher profit on updated phones. 

If your phone has been infiltrated by a miner Trojan, it will run much more slowly. When you notice this happening, it might be time to do an antivirus check. 

5. Riskware

Riskware consists of apps that perform exploitable practices even if the developer hadn’t intended to cause harm. Most riskware will try to handle in-app purchases that are supposed to process through official store service. If you notice an app using unofficial means of billing you for an in-app purchase, you might be at risk. 

Signs of a Malware Attack on Your Phone

Key signs of a malware attack on your mobile phone are if it starts to operate slowly or your battery drains for no reason. You might also notice spikes in your data usage from a virus running tasks in the background. 

You should also check your bank statements for any unusual charges made from your phone. This could be a sign of malware trying to make money from hijacking your device. 

Remember not to trust pop-ups with information unless you’re confident that it’s trustworthy. Malware is designed to trick you into allowing it access, so you need to stay aware of unusual app behavior. 

Top Mobile Phone Security Tips

It’s dangerously easy for a hacker to infiltrate your phone, and even the best smartphones can get exposed to attacks. Once it happens it can be hard to fix, so make sure you’re taking steps to safeguard your phone. 

What are the easiest ways to protect your phone from malware? Here are some top security tips to boost your mobile phone security. 

Update Your Operating System

If you’re wondering how to secure mobile devices, the easiest way to start is by checking on your phone’s operating system. Whether you use an iPhone or Android smartphone, it’s important to always update your device when a new operating system is available. This will ensure that you have the most protective system in place. 

Only Download Apps from Official App Stores

Over 200 billion apps were downloaded by smartphone users last year. Downloading apps from unofficial locations puts you at risk of exposing your device to malware.

When you only choose apps from official stores, there’s a higher likelihood that the app is safe. Official app stores like Apple’s check that the apps they host meet safety criteria. 

Be Careful While Using Public WiFi

When using public WiFi, make sure you don’t access private information like your bank account. If this happens, a hacker could intercept your phone’s communication and access information to cause harm. Instead, you should use 3G or VPN to protect your sensitive info.

Be Careful What You Click

Don’t trust every link or ad that pops up on your phone. Malware is designed to be sneaky and can hijack your phone just through a simple click. If you see a pop-up that wants access, make sure you read through the terms. If you get an email with a link, make sure it’s from a trusted source. 

Don’t Jailbreak or Root Your Device

Sometimes smartphone users will jailbreak their iPhones or root their Android phones to download paid apps for free. This might sound appealing, but it’s a very dangerous process that leaves your device exposed to malicious apps. When you jailbreak or root your phone, it’s no longer protected by Apple or Google. 

Keep Your Cellphone Safe

A cellphone is an expensive investment that you’ll want to safeguard against dangerous malware. Hackers are always coming up with new mobile phone security risks to target your private information. 

Make sure to follow these phone security tips to protect your iPhone or Android device. It can be hard to clean your device of malware and may cost you a lot if you don’t watch out for dangers. 

Want more tech security tips? Check out our guide on keeping your data safe online

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The Most Hotly Contested Web Design Concepts of 2016

If there’s one topic that gets people fired up it’s web design. To succeed online, a smartly designed website is crucial. Something that brings in visitors and keeps them on your page, absorbing content.

Unfortunately, what constitutes a great site isn’t always agreed upon, and there’s constant debate of best practices, what’s hot, what’s not, and what is the cancer that is killing the industry. The argument still rages on, and recently it’s moved on to these commonly used web design elements:

The Carousel

“We’re not at the park, so why are we going around and around? Because people keep designing their sites with these blasted carousels” is just one of the commonly heard gripes about this supposedly interesting design choice.

Unfortunately, we have to keep clicking left or right to get another little morsel of information that the designers have deemed us worthy to handle. Are they afraid we can’t read full paragraphs? This one isn’t just a matter being annoyed personal preference, however, Carousel designs actually harm your websites performance.

They kill local SEO efforts by starving your site of actual content, the slow your site down with huge image files and JavaScript, and they are so confoundingly bad that nobody clicks through them all the way. The naysayers might have a point on this one, Carousels are way more trouble than they are worth.

Parallax Scrolling

You’ve seen this technique on graphics heavy sites in which the foreground and background scroll at different speeds. It creates a feeling of depth, helps tell a story through visuals, and looks pretty cool when properly implemented.

Unfortunately, it comes with some (resolvable) issues that may make it a waste of time. Like the Carousel, use of Parallax Scrolling is damaging to SEO. Since there’s usually just one page and a bunch of images, there’s no text content for search engines to crawl through and rank.

The abundance of images reduces performance (and completely kills performance on mobile devices). Most damaging of all though, is that the technique can just make it confusing to absorb any useful information, which will cut your number of repeat visitors down tremendously.

Think about it, would you stick around on a website where your only navigation option was to scroll downwards through hard-to read image/text combos? Of course, there are examples of Parallax Scrolling done right, so the argument is there that it’s all about how you choose to use it.

The Hamburger Menu

That three lined symbol in the corner on most websites that you click to access navigation options is commonly known as the hamburger menu.

While it does look cool, and you can see why one might be tempted to clean up their navigation by having it sleekly displayed in a drop-down menu, many say it kills a websites discoverability.

When your navigation options are out of sight, they are also out of mind, the thinking goes. There’s also the argument that it’s less efficient, since you’re forced to go to a separate menu just to see your options, but that’s more a matter of personal taste, it would seem.

We may never get definitive answers on whether these trends are good or bad, but it seems pretty clear that if you are going to try to incorporate any of these ideas into your design, you have to do it with care.

We’ve given you an overview of the tons of free web design options out there for building a pretty good site. When you have to move up to the big leagues though, it’d be prudent to hire some big league talent.

Professional web developers like Big Drop (out of New York), or Brown Box Branding (Dallas TX) offer great designs coupled with high level marketing strategies proven to keep the visitors coming back to your site for more.

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