We’re increasingly conducting our online lives through our mobile devices, be they smartphones or tablets, and while that’s a good thing for convenience, it comes with a price.
Mobile platforms are being attacked at a rapidly rising rate, and while many of those attacks happen through bad or compromised apps, a lot of it happens through exploitation of mobile web browsers. That applies to all mobile operating systems, but especially to Android devices — attacks on Google’s operating software increased 163 percent from 2011 to 2012.
Much of the problem is that limited screen sizes make it difficult for users to determine when they’re engaged in risky behavior (the study analyzed ten mobile and two tablet browsers found 90 percent to be unsafe).
That’s particularly true when it comes to figuring out if a site is secure or not, something that’s highly relevant because already more than 20 percent of online shopping happens on mobile devices and that number is skyrocketing. But the icon of a padlock that pops up on secure pages used for payment information on laptop browsers is not as easy to see in mobile browsers, and that’s if users are actually looking for it, though many do not, according to the study.
So how can you safely browse the web on your mobile device?
- Practice app safety. Apps are a popular conduit for malware attacks on mobile platforms, so you must know that any time you download a bad app or an app is exploited your personal data could be at risk. Always download the latest, most secure versions of apps — including those used for browsing the web — and always carefully determine which permissions you allow.
- Find the lock. Whenever you’re entering a page that should be secure — if you are inputting personal or financial information — make sure you see the lock icon at the top of the screen indicating that the site is indeed using the mobile SSL protocol that encrypts your data, thereby assuring your safety. If you don’t see it or can’t find it, you’re probably better off waiting until you can get to a laptop or PC.
- Use mobile security. Security suites aren’t just for your laptop or desktop anymore. Robust security platforms like Kaspersky Mobile Security, for Android devices, block dangerous sites and defend against mobile malware.