Fight fraudsters online: 5 warning signs you might be the target of malicious apps

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Malicious apps are a type of malware that is secretly installed on your device. (Photo: Getty)
They download apps to their devices for a variety of reasons — to listen to music, shop online, check the weather, and more. But malicious apps can be installed stealthily without you knowing and it can be dangerous for your personal data.
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Norton recently announced that hundreds of malicious apps containing a specific type of malware called Dresscode are appearing on the Google Play Store. Dresscode is specially designed software that can infiltrate networks and steal your data. It can even sign you for spam email campaigns and infect other devices in your home network which causes problems for your computer, tablet and phone.
Basically, malicious apps can be a big problem that you definitely want to avoid.
One way to ward off malicious apps is to invest in powerful software like Norton Security Online – a leader in cybersecurity. One account can help protect up to five mobile devices from all types of cyber threats. Once downloaded, the software helps find and remove existing malware and blocks future attack attempts in real time. It even protects your personal and financial information and blocks malware created to steal your identity and ultimately your money.
Try Norton Security Online free for 30 days*
Malicious apps can be a big problem that you definitely want to avoid. (Photo: Getty)
If you're a little unsure about malicious apps, you probably have some questions about what exactly they are and how you can even tell if you have these apps on your devices. Cybersecurity experts break it down.
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What are malicious apps?
Malicious apps are software or code designed specifically to damage your information or your devices — and sometimes both. Malicious apps are a type of malware which are viruses, spyware, ransomware and other unwanted software that secretly get installed on your device according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Once malware is on your device, criminals can steal your sensitive information, send you unwanted or inappropriate ads, and leave you vulnerable to even more problems.
What are the signs that you have malicious apps?
It's possible to have malicious apps and not even realize it, but there are certain clues that can alert you that you have malware:
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Ad Popups. This is the most common sign, tech and cybersecurity expert Chuck Brooks, president of Brooks Consulting International, tells Yahoo Life. "This could be installed by adware or maybe something more malicious like a Trojan horse," he says.
Slow operation. You may notice this on apps you know are legitimate, Brooks says.
Shorter battery life. If your battery suddenly doesn't last the way it used to, it can be a "telltale sign" of malicious apps, Brooks says.
Low amounts of data. If you notice one of your apps consuming "abnormal amounts of data," it could be a sign of a malicious app, says Brooks.
A new app that you have not authorized. Notice a new app on your device that you're not familiar with? "It can be a sign that you've been hurt," Brooks says.
Ad pop-ups are a common sign of malware. (Photo: Getty)
How to remove malicious apps
"If you suspect a malicious app is running on your device, run mobile anti-malware software and remove any apps you don't recognize," cybersecurity expert Joseph Steinberg tells Yahoo Life. (A good option: Norton Security Online, which is specifically designed to detect and remove malware.)
Try Norton Security Online free for 30 days*
If possible, Steinberg recommends wiping your device, restoring the factory settings, and reinstalling your favorite apps from trusted app stores. "In the future, of course, use internet security software on your device," says Steinberg.
Brooks says you shouldn't try to do this alone if you're having trouble removing suspicious apps. "Unfortunately, once hackers have planted a malicious app, they can give themselves admin privileges - which means the app can't just be deleted," he says. "If this is the case, contact an IT or cybersecurity professional as soon as possible."
Going forward, keep this in mind, says Steinberg: "You should only install apps from trusted sources such as the Google, Apple, or Amazon app stores, or the official app store of your device's vendor." However, sometimes malicious apps make it in those stores, so pay attention to how long an app has been in the store, how many people have downloaded it, and what the ratings are showing, he says. "Of course, scammers can manipulate such factors - but often they don't," says Steinberg.
Try Norton Security Online free for 30 days*
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