By now, most mobile users are aware of the threat of having their data stolen due to improper security. With infinite options to choose from and millions of apps to make our lives easier on the go, smartphones often function as a mobile extension of our work and personal lives. You may be familiar with the common methods of safeguarding your information: changing and maintaining a secure password, scanning for viruses on a scheduled basis, and not sharing personal information. Now, there’s one more thing to worry about – the SMS Trojan sparked by the sudden rise popularity of the photo sharing app Instagram.

Instagram is a photo sharing program that allows you to enhance captured photos or images saved in your smartphone’s gallery with several different filters. It gives users the option to add tags and upload the polished photos to a number of social networking sites. Instagram’s appeal is their signature vintage feel; images are formatted in a style that mimics old Polariods.Instagram has been around since 2010 and was initially available on devices running Apple’s iOS. It caught on quickly and spawned several sites and blogs that posted Instagram photos. Facebook bought the photo giant on April 3, and on April 12, an app was finally released for Android phones running version 2.2 (Froyo) or higher. Since the release of the app, the Android market has seen a surge in interest for the app. Malware watchdogs reported that several copycat Instagram websites have popped up offering “genuine” downloads of the app. These third-party installs can seriously cause harm to your phone and expose personal information.

What’s scary is that this has happened before with hyped apps, namely the Angry Birds Space unveil back in February. And while malware on Android has been limited until now, it’s clear that hackers are picking their targets wisely. The websites who have been spotted offering the Instagram app purportedly also offer a variety of popular apps and games for free. While you may have the urge to nab the paid app that you’ve been craving for free, it’s important to remember to not openly trust third-party websites claiming to offer the latest and greatest technology, especially if it is claiming to be a paid app for free or a pre-release. Official copies of the app will be sporting the company’s name on trusted markets such as Google Play and the Apple and Amazon App Stores. If you believe that you may have fallen victim to a malware scan, there are several free solutions available for your device.