29 June 2016 07:36:46 IST

Indiscriminate app downloads can hurt your pocket

Norton study finds 3.3 million apps have malware; can pose threat to mobile wallets

Here’s a piece of good news. A good number of Indian internet users, who access the web via mobiles, have woken up to cyber threats. But the bad news is that they’re doing nothing to shield themselves against possible intrusions and losses.

As people indiscriminately download apps hoping to improve their productivity and get themselves some infotainment, hackers are having a field day.

“Close to 50 per cent of Indians have over 20 apps on their smartphones, and mobile wallets and e-commerce apps are among the top five applications used,” said Ritesh Chopra, Country Manager (India) of Norton by Symantec, told BusinessLine

Talking about the highlights of Norton Mobile Security 2016, he said giving permissions indiscriminately could result in severe loss of data.

“People are unwittingly giving permissions to unknown and unverified developers to download apps. A good number are fake and could make your phones their slaves,” he added.

“They don’t even bother to spare a moment before giving access permissions to the app developer. They don’t even check the authenticity of the developer. As a result, they are inviting trouble,” he said.

“It would have financial implications too as the usage of mobile wallets has gained currency. Not only that, you are putting friends in your contact list in danger,” he said.

Malware threat The study has analysed over 10.8 million apps in over 200 app stores. A third of them (3.3 million) come with malware, which can harm your phone in a variety of ways. From stealing contacts to devouring money from your mobile wallets — the malware can make your life miserable.

That two-thirds of all those accessing the Internet in India are accessing it through mobile handsets shows how vulnerable Indian users are to cyber attacks.

The report indicates that dependency on mobile devices has gone up significantly in the last two years as mobile penetration increased significantly.

“The survey, conducted in 14 Indian cities in May, shows that people are checking mobiles at least 41 times a day,” he said.

“About 81 per cent of the 1,005 respondents feel the risk to mobiles is just as high — if not higher — as laptops or desktops,” said Chopra.