There is an English proverb that a big tree attracts a woodsman’s axe, and the meaning can also be applied to the always expanding world of technology. While malware attacks on smartphones are still relatively rare in comparison to attacks on desktops and laptops, the number of occurrences is on the rise as smartphone use is becoming more prevalent.
How a Smartphone Can Contract a Virus
Mobile device users can be lulled into a false sense of security regarding the use of their phone. People tend to believe that as long as they only browse reputable sites and only download apps, games, and music from legitimate sources then all will be well. Unfortunately, viruses have clever ways of infiltrating your device without you even knowing anything is wrong until it is too late.
Since smartphones are practically like a smaller version of a laptop, they are just as susceptible to malware. Some of the ways in which smartphones can be infected include:
- Downloading Apps – Some apps require the user to agree to a terms and condition disclosure. Face it, most of us just scroll right down and click “agree.” This is a big mistake because it is often outlined in the fine print that the app will have access to your personal information, such as email, contact lists, and social media account. A good mobile anti-virus software will scan every app before it is downloaded.
- PC Hookup – If you connect your device to a desktop via USB, then any existing virus on your computer can transfer to your device.
- Message Attachments – It is pretty easy to detect suspicious email as most of them will be from unfamiliar contacts and be sent to your spam folder. However, if your phone already has a virus, it may send a message disguised as a familiar contact.
- Bluetooth Connection – There has been some disturbing speculations that an infected, Bluetooth-enabled phone can affect other Bluetooth phones just by being in close proximity in much the same way as an airborne virus.
How to Prevent Smartphone Malware
- Download with Caution – Most mobile viruses make their way in through app downloads. While those free app downloads may be tempting, if they are not from a reputable source, then think twice before clicking the download button.
- Check Your Sources – For iPhone users, any apps not originating from Apple’s official store come with an inherent risk. This is not to say that all third-party apps are bad; just proceed with caution and be aware of the risk. Android users have a little more leeway since apps made by companies outside of Google are commonplace; this includes trusted sources like Amazon’s App Store. However, a certain degree of caution still needs to be in place.
- Watch the Permissions – Most mobile operating systems have a strong security setting in place that requires apps to request permission for access to the basic services and functions of your device. Always think about what you are allowing the app to do and never blindly accept the terms and conditions. Does that free crossword puzzle app really need access to your private information, such as your contact list and camera function?
With Better Technology Comes Higher Risks
Technology has made life so much more convenient for the general public. Smartphones enable us to get directions, send and receive not only text messages but emails and a dozen types of instant messages, compare prices, and access an encyclopedia of information, and so much more from the palm of our hands. However, with this convenience comes a whole new generation of threat. While cyber-attacks can never be completely contained, your safe browsing habits can reduce the likelihood of you becoming a statistic.