Protecting your gadgets from viruses and malware

Phone users are advised to install apps from authorised stores. PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

What you need to know:

Cautious. To protect oneself from malicious apps, read the different reviews for apps you are about to install since these reviews are publicly available. 
Develop good cyber hygiene, and make sure you have good permission management on your devices.

Are you aware that your phone or any other electronic gadget can have a number of threats and malware issues? 
Mr Remmegious Ssewankambo, a senior executive director at Techjaja, says malware is a malicious software designed to cause damage or gain unauthorised access to computers, servers and networks.  
Experts at Norton, who deal in providing anti-virus and security software, says once your phone is hacked, your other devices may be next if they are connected. 
Malware is a software that specifically targets the operating systems on mobile phones. 
According to Mr Noah Baalessanvu, head of technology at Crypto Savannah, malware is the short form for malicious software. It is a programme or app that is designed to steal or compromise the security of your device (computer or mobile phone). 
He says malware takes many forms depending on what it is designed to do. 
“Cybercriminals use it to extract data that they can leverage over victims for financial gain. The data can range from financial data, to healthcare records, to personal emails and passwords, the possibilities of what sort of information can be compromised have become endless,”  Mr Baalessanvu adds.
According to Mr Baalessanvu, it is difficult to know if a device has been attacked by malware as they are designed to be as passive as possible, to remain under the radar and avoid being detected by antiviruses.
Mr Remmegious says different malware serves different purposes, “like ransom ware requires one to pay a fee to regain access to their files/computers.”
He says viruses and malwares come in different forms,
“Some are designed to slow down networks, steal data, access passwords, rewrite themselves to fill up space among others,” he says.
“The ultimate tool would be an antivirus scan at a basic level to detect malware, since some are concealed and can’t easily be found,” he adds.
However, other signs to detect malware is, if you are seeing adverts constantly, regardless of which app you are using. You install an app, and then the icon immediately disappears, your battery is draining much faster than usual and seeing apps you don’t recognize on your phone.
Avoiding malware?
Mr Remmegious advises that one should avoid downloading random apps, software, suspicious links a and limit their system access in cases prompted.    He says one should go ahead to keep their software updated.
“Since new updates usually come with security patches, it can hinder malware or solve loopholes that malware can take advantage of,” he says.
The most important aspect is to have mobile security. Mr Remmegious says one should install an antivirus from a trusted source because antivirus can scan for malware and avoid its installation.
Mr Baalessanvu says the other ways of prevention are behavioural practices such as backing up regularly, avoiding clicking on suspicious links and avoiding suspicious websites or apps.
Installing a firewall is another way of fighting malware.  “Most mobile phones do not come with any kind of firewall protection. Installing a firewall provides you with much stronger protection against digital threats and allows you to safeguard your online privacy,” he adds.