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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A U.S. security company is sounding the alarm about something that is threatening nearly every American.

Proofpoint warns it is seeing a gigantic spike in malware on cell phones. The company said it began noticing the spike in early February. That’s when the company said its researchers noticed a 500% jump in the attempts to deliver malware to cell phones across Europe.

Just because it’s happening in Europe doesn’t mean Americans should ignore the issue.

According to Proofpoint malware is becoming a larger problem because attackers are sending more scams by smishing, or text-based phishing, to mobile devices.

The texts are easier to get through to cell phones because all the scammer needs is a phone number to send the text.

Historically, the highest amount of malware has been downloaded from app stores. There is some protection, especially for iOS users. Apple has strict controls that developers must adhere to. Android users don’t have as much protection in the App Store.

Experts say that’s why attackers are turning to smishing. There isn’t a third-party layer of protection in place.

It’s not just passwords and accounts scammers are hoping to steal. According to Proofpoint, some malware can record phone conversations, track locations, and even destroy content on the device.

Safeguarding your phone is as simple as taking steps like you would with a computer.

  • Don’t click on unsolicited links in texts or emails
  • Install a mobile antivirus app from a trusted source
  • Report spam and any suspected malware to the Spam Reporting Service. Proofpoint said you can also forward suspicious text messages to 7726 (SPAM on the keypad)

To learn more about the specific types of smishing that is a problem right now, read the full Proofpoint report on the State of Mobile Malware.

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