In response to the increasing interest in mobile applications, McAfee has shared their top five tips to avoid downloading bad apps. Due to the fact that smartphones and tablets have eclipsed unit sales of desktop and laptop PCs, cybercriminals have set their sights on the mobile front and maliciously modified apps are becoming a more popular vector for infecting devices.

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Fortunately, there are some common-sense practices that anyone can take to help protect their smartphones and tablets from malware. Take a look –

  • For the moment, the amount of detected smartphone malware is relatively low compared to malware that targets desktop or laptop PCs; but being aware that it exists is the first step toward protecting yourself and your data.
  • Research apps and their publishers thoroughly and check the ratings – better to install apps that are broadly used in the market or are recommended by your circle of friends and colleagues
  • It is wise to purchase from a well-known reputable app store market, such as the Android Market. One way for Android users to avoid installation of non-market applications is to de-select the “Unknown sources” option in the Applications Settings menu on their device.  If the option is not listed, it means your mobile service provider has already done this for the user.
  • When you install an app, you'll see a list of permissions for services that are granted access to the hardware and software components on your device, like contacts, camera and location. If something in the permissions screen doesn't look right, don't install that app! For example, a game or alarm clock app probably shouldn't need to access your contacts or have the ability to transmit that data from your device.
  • Install antivirus software on your phone. It’s a good idea to have an antivirus program when you get a new mobile device before you add any other apps.

By 2012, mobile apps are projected to generate more than $15 billion in app store revenues from end-users alone.

McAfee Mobile Security is among the list of anti-malware, anti-theft and web safety apps that are available for smartphones. The app is available for Android smartphones and tablets as well as BlackBerry and Symbian smartphones. McAfee has also recently released McAfee App Alert software, an app that’s designed to secure and preserve the user’s privacy by providing intelligence about the apps on their Android device. The software individually analyzes and grades each app, to show the device owner how they access, store and transmit their personal data. McAfee App Alert (beta) is currently available free on the Android Market.

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