For a few years we remained relatively free from viruses and malware on the mobile platforms. However, as their popularity grew, they started to attract the attention of hackers and others looking to exploit smartphone users and swindle them out of money. Some just like to ruin people’s days. But whatever the reason, today security is every bit as important on a smartphone as it has been on the PC.
So Are There Viruses for Smartphones?
The answer is, well, yes and no. If you use a Windows phone, then viruses should be a concern. These phones are basically only slightly different versions of Microsoft Windows, and viruses are already a big problem on that platform. So yes there are viruses. However, on the other platforms, there aren’t really viruses.
You see, viruses by their definition are nefarious programs that can replicate themselves. That means they can spread much like the flu without your intervention. So far on the other platforms, we haven’t seen this type of evil application. Instead, we have what is known as malware. These types of applications use trickery to get you to install them. They are received in email or text messages and trick you into clicking on something.
Once you tap on that evil link, the malware is installed on your smartphone. These take the form of adware that just annoy you without end to others that are more nefarious that can delete or even steal your data or hold your smartphone hostage. These require you to pay a ransom to the hacker in order to release your phone.
Where Can You Get Malware?
Malware usually comes when you download apps for unofficial sources such as the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. If you jailbreak your iPhone, for example, you can go to many different sites and install pretty much anything you want. Android already gives you the freedom to do that, which we love, but you must be careful.
If you go to a site that isn’t trusted, you may find a free version of an app that is normally a paid app, but do you really know if that app is clean? The answer is no. While it may seem like it works just as you would expect it to, in the background it could be stealing your life right out from under you.
This isn’t the only way to get malware on your phone, especially if you use Android and Windows. Simple emails or text messages can contain links designed to ruin your life. If you tap on them, the evil programs are installed and begin to work to undo your life or interrupt it causing you to have a seriously bad day.
How Do You Protect Yourself
So how do you protect your smartphone from infections such as these? There are a few things you can do to put a stop to the malware and, at the very least, severely limit your chances of becoming infected.
- Use Antivirus Software – That’s right there is antivirus software for both Windows phones and Android phones. If you use one of these devices, visit their official app stores and download and install one of the leading antivirus packages. This will run in the background just like it does on your computer and protect your device from infection from these nasty little bugs.
- Careful Where You Go – While you may want to install apps from other locations than the official ones, you must be careful where you go. Check out the locations thoroughly and read reviews from third party sites about them to determine how safe they really are. Find out if anyone has become infected from the sites you are thinking about using before you download anything from them. If a site is a problem, avoid it at all costs.
- Don’t Tap On What You Don’t Know – Just like on your PC, you never tap on links in emails or in text messages from people you don’t know. If you get a spam message in either place, just delete it and move on with life. Do NOT let curiosity get the best of you. Remember, with one tap your phone could go to hell. So be careful what you are tapping on.
By simply following these three simple rules, you can really limit your chances of becoming infected. Its common sense and good computing practices that you already do on a daily basis on your computer, when you think about it. So why aren’t we doing them on our phones?
What If You Get Infected
Sometimes, no matter how careful we are, we accidentally make a mistake or we end up getting infected anyway. It happens. So what do you do if you become infected with malware on your smartphone? While it really depends on the infection, you do have a few options.
- Install Antivirus Software – If your phone is still usable, install antivirus software onto your phone and run it immediately. After you update your phone, disable its network connectivity to prevent the malware from calling home. You may need to do a safe boot to clean it properly. Just follow the software’s instructions.
- Manually Delete the Evil Files – If you are savvy, you can probably track down the evil files wreaking havoc on your smartphone. Using your file browser, locate the files and delete them. Once you remove them, reboot your phone and maybe even consider a quick reset of all the settings in the hopes of stopping it from coming back.
- Reset Your Phone – Sometimes, the infections are so bad that your only option is to start over. While this just plain sucks, sometimes it is necessary in order to make sure your date is safe and your smartphone is free of all malware. Following the instructions from your phone manufacturer, reset all the data back to factory settings and start over. Yes you will lose data on your phone, but if you back up your phone regularly, this shouldn’t be that big of a problem. In the end it really just more time consuming than anything.
Do Apple iPhones Get Viruses?
Apple has always been ignored by many hackers over the years. That is changing, however, as the company has grown in popularity like never before. Still, there are far fewer viruses and malware made for their platforms.
But that doesn’t mean you are safe just because you use an iPhone. In fact, sometimes they even get past Apple in their App Store. Recently, an app that was actually a virus was discovered and removed on the App Store. So what can you take from this? Just remember that just because it is made by Apple doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe and free from the threat of viruses, as they clearly most certainly are not.
Malware is on the rise in the mobile world as hackers and thieves have finally discovered the potential gold mine that exists in this platform. While I’m surprised it took them this long to really get going, it is now a part of owning a smartphone. You just have to live with it just as you do on your computer.
By following a few best practices and avoiding some of riskier parts of smartphone usage, you can limit your risk greatly. Never forget to run antivirus software on your phones at all times either, it could mean the difference between a clean phone and an infected one.
Do you have to worry about this that much? Not really. At least not any more than you worry about it on your laptop or desktop computer. Just take the necessary precautions and be smart with your usage and you should have nothing to worry about.