How malware infects smartphones

Smartphones have become a favorite device of hackers because of the amount of sensitive information they contain. Here's how they get hacked

As is well known, considering the number of malware attacks recorded over the years, smartphones can also be compromised by hackers. The reason is quite simple: any device that can connect to the Internet is potentially hackable by cyber criminals.

To get into victims' mobile devices, attackers use various means, just like they do with computers and notebooks. They hide viruses and malware in emails and text messages, or by sending fake update links. However, the preferred means of deception for hackers to infect smartphones remains applications. Especially those installed from unofficial markets. This is a problem that particularly affects Android users, who are affected more frequently than iOS users by malware inside APK files downloaded from the Internet.

The iPhone can also be affected by hackers. Although unlike Android, Apple's operating system is closed, i.e. it doesn't allow third parties to make changes and it doesn't allow apps to be installed through stores other than the official one, it is not completely immune to cyber criminals.

Smartphones have become one of the favorite devices of hackers because of the amount of sensitive information they contain. Let's think, for example, of the passwords of different accounts (including bank accounts). It is not a mystery that the number of attacks against mobile devices has increased dramatically. But how are smartphones attacked?

Malicious apps

As mentioned above, the main vector used by cyber criminals is malware disguised in apps. Most of the viruses are found inside apps that users unwisely install from the Net. One of the strengths of Android is that it is an open-source operating system. However, this is also a weakness. Smartphones can also be hacked by malicious apps - it has happened several times - that have managed to breach Android's security controls and end up in the Play Store.


Malware often arrives on smartphones through advertisements. They can appear anywhere, even in seemingly legitimate apps. In this case, we're talking about malvertising, a trivial technique, but one that still manages to claim a lot of victims, allowing hackers a huge financial return. Viruses are sometimes hidden in fake update banners displayed on browsers or inside some applications.

Malicious Updates

Another trick used by cyber criminals to infect mobile devices is to publish an initial version of the app without malware. Then, once it is published in the stores and downloaded by the victims, the software is modified with a malicious update. And that's not all. Hackers are also adept at creating nearly identical versions to the original ones - distributed mostly on alternative digital stores - containing one of many malware.

Malicious links

Smartphones can also be compromised through a simple link, sent to users through email or on another app.

How to defend yourself

To defend your mobile devices from hackers, you should limit as much as possible the installation of APK files downloaded from untrusted markets, using only official stores instead. Then, it is necessary to avoid opening links and attachments arrived from unknown senders. It is also important to keep your smartphones up-to-date and equip yourself with a good antivirus.