Rundown: 5 cellphone viruses Filipinos should avoid and how to recognize them

April 14, 2021 - 11:53 AM
Playing mobile games Interaksyon
In this photo: Two people playing a mobile game (Unsplash/rawpixel)

About 73 million Filipinos now go online to conduct their daily activities, with user growth sped up by the pandemic. Many are unaware though that they can be exposed to malicious software.

The increase in online activities translates to transactions worth P53 billion so far especially related to social media marketing campaigns, electronic payments and e-commerce.

Understandably, security remains the top consideration for Filipino consumers when choosing a digital platform to use especially that an overwhelming majority at 99% express their plan to use online payments even after the pandemic, according to PayPal Consumer Insights Survey last year.

Russia-based cybersecurity multinational Kaspersky, however, noted that alongside the steady increase of internet users was an increase in Trojans, a type of malicious software or malware, in mobile phones.

Trojans as “malware disguised as legitimate software that hackers and cyber thieves use to get into a user’s system to spy on them or steal from them.”

“Once activated, attackers can easily delete, block, modify, and copy sensitive data of the user. Trojans can even disrupt the performance of computers or computer networks or in the case of Filipino users, their mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets,” Kaspersky said in a news release.

The types of malware their technology blocked from mobile devices are:

Generic Trojan — the most basic type; designed to slow down devices or steal information from your device

Trojan dropper — a program that delivers other malware that installs itself without the user knowing.

Trojan-downloader — installs itself into the system and waits for internet connection to download other programs.

SMS Trojan — makes use of a phone’s text messaging service to send and intercept messages by itself, costing the user money.

Trojan-Proxy — a virus that allows an attacker to stage anonymous attacks using your device while hiding their locations.

Android users were found to be the most vulnerable targets of malware. About 98% of such malware are designed for Android phones.

“Based on our data, the Philippines may have had only 55,622 mobile malware detections in 2020, which is almost half of the monitored 110,130 attempts back in 2019. But there should be no room for complacency for Filipinos,” said Chris Connell, at Kaspersky’s managing director for Asia Pacific.

To prevent your phone from installing an app with malware, Kaspersky shares the following tips:

  1. Avoid clicking links from emails sent via social media, chat rooms and by unfamiliar people.
  2. Be wary of emails asking for your personal information and redirecting you to websites and pop-up windows.
  3. Always check if the URL or the address is suspicious. Only provide data if connection is secure.
  4. Avoid using the internet through public Wi-Fi networks.
  5. Read customer reviews about online retailers before accessing their websites.
  6. Use and run anti-malware services to protect your mobile devices.