Have you ever landed on a website and had a pop-up warning about an infection on your computer? You must download an urgent update or risk all of your data being stolen.

As you probably realised, these pop-ups are a scam. The urgent patch is the virus. If you click OK, you install the malware and infect your own computer.

But sometimes you really do have to pay attention to these warnings.

Don’t ignore the Twitter pop-up

Twitter users may have received an in-app message advising of an urgent update – and this time it is genuine. Twitter has recently discovered a serious bug in their Android app which may be exploited by hackers to steal personal information.

According to Twitter, a bug in the app may allow access to private information like direct messages. As a result they are using in app pop-up messages to alert people who are at risk.

A really simple fix

The good news is that fixing this security issue is really simple. All you have to do is install the latest Twitter app update. This will automatically fix the security hole and prevent hackers breaking into your smartphone.

If you’re still not sure about whether you can trust the alert pop-up or not, you can search and download the Twitter update direct from the Google Play store yourself.

Not everyone is affected

There’s more good news. This problem only affects smartphones running Android versions 8 and 9 – version 10 (the latest) is completely unaffected. Better yet, Twitter estimates that 96% of users have already installed Android patches that will have fixed this vulnerability.

However, 4% is still a significant number when you consider Twitter has millions of registered users. Even if you haven’t seen the in-app pop-up, you should download the latest Twitter update from the Google Play store.

Learning good app discipline

App updates are usually released for two reasons – to add new features, or to fix software bugs and security vulnerabilities. Either way, there is a good reason for updating your apps as soon as there is a new release

Your phone will tell you automatically when there are updates ready to be installed – often using a system update notification direct from the Google Play Store. Simply tap the notification to install the update. Just remember that your Android phone is vulnerable to hackers and malware until the update is installed.

Alternatively, you can set your phone to install updates automatically. Simply log into the Google Play app store, access your account settings and select the ‘Auto-update apps’ option. Make sure that ‘Auto-update apps over Wi-Fi only’ is selected.

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Boost your protection

Although security bugs in official apps can be a problem, the biggest risk still comes from malware-infected apps. As well as installing updates quickly, you should ensure your Android smartphone (or tablet) is protected with an effective, trustworthy anti-malware app like Panda Android Antivirus.

Completely free to download and use, Panda offers real-time anti-virus protection and will help you check that your other apps are behaving themselves and not accessing information they shouldn’t.

So whatever you’re doing today, make sure you update your Twitter app first.