Who Controls Your Android Phone: You or Criminals?

A malware infection can turn your Windows computer into a zombie, secretly doing the bidding of maleficent thugs who live far away from you. It's not obvious when this happens; the computer doesn't stare blankly, walk slowly, or try to eat brains. It appears to behave normally. But it just might be doing some pretty dreadful things in the background.

An infected computer becomes part of a botnet, a network of computers that criminals can use for their bidding. They can use your computer, along with other people's, to send out spam or cripple a company with distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. And while they're at it, they can steal your passwords and your bank account and credit card numbers.

That's old news. The scary new news is that you don't even need to own a computer to catch this kind of trouble. According to this InformationWeek article by Kurt Marko, your Android phone can also become a botnet zombie doing the bidding of people less scrupulous than the worst politician. "This marks a disturbing milestone in the evolution of mobile malware," says Marko, "since until recently, mobile exploits typically didn't involve a persistent takeover of the device and active communication with a [botnet]." He quotes a Damballa Labs report stating that "two-way Internet communication now makes the mobile market as susceptible to criminal breach activity as desktop devices."

As mobile carriers begin capping Internet access, botnets will add an additional cost to those with infected phones. The criminals will use your phone to blast their evil intent over the Internet, then you will have to pay for too much Internet access.

How can you protect yourself? The same way you would do so on a Windows computer: Use a first-rate security program like Trend Micro's Mobile Protection, and keep it up-to-date. If you need protection for your computer, as well, Trend Micro's Titanium Maximum Security will keep both your Windows and Android devices safe.

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