There is a new market out there for hackers and virus-makers that is on the verge of booming- the cell phone market.
Back when cell phones were only used for making calls, it was very difficult to send a computer-type virus and infect a network of cell phones. But now, with the emergence of smart phones, this has opened up a new world. Not only do we use phones to make calls, but we text, email, surf the internet, and download apps. This has brought about many new ways for viruses to infect phones.
While many cell phone viruses are not incredibly sophisticated, they do have the ability to cause severe damage to your phone- causing you to lose data like your pictures or music, or even rendering your phone useless so that you need to either do a factory reset or get a new phone.
Here are the top ways you can get a virus on your phone:
1. Email: If you have your email account on your phone, make sure you have a good email spam filter set up for your account. Now that you have email on your phone, any virus sent through email can infect your phone the same way it would infect your computer.
Along with a good spam filtering system in place, make sure you use the same guidelines when opening email on your phone as you would on your computer. Don’t open emails from people you don’t recognize, don’t click on suspicious links, etc.
2. Internet Surfing: The same basic principle applies here as well. Since you now can get internet access on your phone, it is just as vulnerable to viruses as your computer.
So, keep the same guidelines here too. Don’t download anything suspicious, don’t visit questionable websites, etc. For more guidelines on how not to get a virus from the internet, check out our free e-book: Surf Smart.
3. Apps: Downloading apps is one of the great advantages of having a smartphone, but you need to be careful. Hiding some malicious code within an app is a really easy way to transmit a virus. Not only that, but since you are giving out your credit card information for some of these apps, it provides hackers with another way to access your personal and financial information.
If you think an app looks suspicious, do a little research online. Find out if anyone else had trouble with the app before downloading it. Ideally, you only want to be downloading apps from trusted third-party sources, but since there are so many different app-makers these days, it is tough to know which ones can be trusted. So make sure to do your homework.
4. Text Messages: Usually a virus sent through a text message requires you to do something like click a link, download something, or reply with some type of phrase before it is able to infect your phone. Although viruses sent through text messages are becoming more complex, they are still not likely to do damage to your phone if you follow some simple guidelines.
If you don’t recognize the number, and they don’t immediately identify themselves (“Hey, this is Peter, so-and-so gave me your number”), don’t click on anything or reply to the message. Better yet, delete it immediately. If that particular number is clearly a scam/spam, and they keep sending you messages, you can call up your provider and block that number from your phone. Generally speaking though, if you don’t take any action the first time it is unlikely they will try again.
Anti-Virus for a Phone?
Major virus protection companies, such as Kaspersky or MacAfee, have released some anti-virus programs for mobile devices. Generally speaking though, these programs are not very far along in their development or sophistication, much like the viruses themselves. While putting them on your mobile devices may offer you a little more protection, it is nothing substantial yet. That said, these companies are aware that mobile viruses are becoming more of a threat and are working on creating better versions of the mobile anti-virus software.
In the meantime though, if you follow the same guidelines when you use your phone as you would when using a computer, it is unlikely you will get a virus on your phone. The key is, just be aware and be careful.