Barclays warns ‘be cautious’ of increase in ‘harmful’ scam most people don't spot

May 3, 2024
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 is warning Britons to be vigilant of a “harmful” malware that most people are unaware they’re at risk of.

The bank’s research shows that one in five (21 percent) , while a further 28 perent only have a limited understanding of the software

Three in five (61 perent) of those aged 55 and over have limited or no knowledge of mobile malware and its associated risks.

Mobile malware is harmful software that can spy on and control mobile devices. It can steal information, change device settings and access apps – including people’s banking app.

Barclays said mobile banking was the payment channel used for a staggering 92 percent of scams that customers reported last year

Alarmingly, the number of attacks on mobile devices increased by nearly 52 percent in 2023, as per Kaspersky’s annual report on mobile threats.

Further demonstrating the lack of awareness around malware, Barclays found nearly a third of consumers “wrongly believe” their phone’s security system will automatically protect them from mobile malware.

One in four (26 percent) say they download apps to their phone without doing any additional checks first, and 11 percent have third-party apps installed on their phone.

Kirsty Adams, digital eagle at Barclays is urging consumers to stay vigilant. She said: “Criminals employ sophisticated tactics to often sneak malware onto your device – by adding apps that seem harmless and practical, such as a PDF reader, to official app stores.

“Once downloaded, these apps can sit dormant on your phone, raising no alarm bells, until you’re prompted to update the app – inadvertently installing mobile malware on your device.

“With full access to your phone, these harmful apps present you with fake login screens, scrape your phone for private information, and even spy on or control your activity on other apps. Therefore it’s important that you’re ultra cautious when installing anything on your phone.”

How to stay safe from mobile malware

Firstly, Ms Adams urged people to “be suspicious” if an app asks for accessibility permissions.

Secondly, she said people should always install the latest security updates for the device. If a text or email has a link to an app people don’t recognise, don’t download it.

Additionally, it’s suggested that people use two-factor authentication to keep important apps safe and install anti-virus software on all devices. Ms Adams said: “Research what’s available before choosing one.”

Finally, if a device is acting strangely, such as freezing or restarting, Ms Adams suggested people check their bank account and follow the guidance on gov.uk on how to recover an infected device.

What to do if you’re a victim

Ms Adams said: “Act immediately. If your device becomes infected by malware take immediate steps to limit the risk of infection and seek professional assistance.

“Keep your device on, but disconnected. Unplug any network cables and de-activate Wi-Fi, mobile data and Bluetooth connections. Do not shut down your mobile device as you may not be able to access it again.

“Report the incident immediately to Action Fraud and preserve any evidence.”

When safe to do so, Ms Adams suggested: “Reset your credentials, including passwords, but make sure you don’t lock yourself out of systems that are needed for recovery.”



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