Computer viruses are, unfortunately, a typical problem that people deal with regularly. But you use your smartphone for everything so you don’t have to worry, right? Wrong. With so many people using their smartphones as their primary internet browsing device, malicious software (malware) has been transformed to infiltrate and retrieve sensitive information stored on mobile devices. Before I discuss how to protect your phone, let’s take a look back at the evolution of mobile malware.
What is mobile malware?
Just like viruses that infect your PC, these mobile-specific viruses ‘attack’ your phone via a file that has been downloaded or shared.
It varies slightly, however, from your computer in terms of sharing; computer viruses spread through email attachments and internet downloads, smartphone worms and Trojans (two types of mobile malware) spread through internet downloads, multimedia messaging (MMS), short message service (SMS), and Bluetooth networks.
Worms are typically transmitted specifically through SMS and MMS, mostly reproducing and spreading to other devices. These do not require interaction by the mobile user.
Trojans do require action from the user and come in the form of a downloadable file.
These files may seem appealing and harmless, but are the most dangerous- usually syncing to important apps (email accounts, calendars, etc) before the information is sent to a remote server.
Appearing in 2004, Cabir.A was the first known virus to target smartphones. It was created mostly to prove that it can be done.
Since then, anti-virus companies have developed software to eradicate malware. In August of 2010, Google’s Android operating system was infected by the Trojan virus: -
It was programmed to send SMS message to without consent of the owners, causing billing problems for those who were infected.
Now that malware has reached the realm of smartphones, it’s crucial to protect the information on your phone. How? Well, here are a few steps you can take to protect your phone and everything on it.
Free and easy
The easiest thing you can do to protect your information is to use a screen lock and password. The seconds it takes to enter your passcode are worth it, when you consider how much information is saved in such a small device.
You’re not only saving yourself, your contact’s information is also at risk once your phone is breached.
Remember that some viruses can spread through your Bluetooth network. Spare yourself the trouble by making your device undiscoverable and turning it off.
This simple task will prevent viruses from spreading to your device through that wireless network, not to mention your battery consumption will be decreased.
Another simple precaution you can take is simply making sure you are downloading files from a reputable source.
If you’re not too sure, cross check the file name online with malware that has been detected on other devices.
If you want to take it a step further, there is anti-virus software that has been developed specifically for mobile devices. An example here is Trend Micro’s Mobile Security Personal Edition which contains the following features:-
Antivirus and malware scanner—Scans every app installed and filters out the “bad” apps that can steal your information.
Privacy scanner—Detects apps whose sole purpose is to retrieve sensitive information.
Surf, call, and text security—Automatically blocks malicious websites, messages, and calls.
Lost device protection—If your device is lost or stolen, the software allows you to track it, enable a loud alarm, remotely lock it, perform a factory reset, and much more.
The great thing about this software is that there are free and premium versions.
Even better is that the free version includes a 30-day free trial of all the features includes in the Premium version.
Up until 2012, users of the iOS platform had not experienced malware, however, things have changed.
A Russian-language app called ‘Find and Call’ was discovered to have introduced the first malware to the iOS platform.
This Trojan virus steals the victim’s address book and uploads it to a remote server.
Once the information is gathered the remote server sends spam to your contact’s email and phone numbers.
The tricky thing is that the app asks for permission to access the contact list, once it does that the spam is sent ‘on behalf’ of the victim.
Smart Surfing for iPhone is Trend Micro’s response to the new malware. Using ‘Web Reputation Technology’, the software blocks malicious websites from penetrating your phone through worms and Trojans.
You can adjust the protection levels and it even color-codes web search results for easy identification.
Kaito Mori is a father of three rambunctious children that are constantly testing his ability to keep their home computer safe and secure among the plethora of uses it is subjected to each day. When not being the raddest dad alive, Kaito also works with Trend Micro in an effort to keep other family’s online adventures as safe as his.