Threats to your mobile phone are growing. Smartphones are susceptible to viruses, malware, and spyware just like a computer. In fact, there are over 1,400 mobile malware signatures, according to Kaspersky Labs America, a security company that sells antivirus software for PCs, Macs, and smartphones that run Windows- and Symbian-based operating systems. Because Windows and Symbian are two of the most popular types of phones in the world they are more prone to viruses. But this summer, Kaspersky Labs, claims to have found the first Trojan virus that specifically targets Android phones. Apple claims that you can’t get a virus on their phones, but some purport otherwise.
Besides the danger of phone malfunction and failure due to bugs, attackers can also get access to the data on your phone, including your contacts, email, photos, and even your whereabouts. But all is not lost. Here are some things you can do to keep your phone safe from viruses and your personal information private.
1. Avoid Jailbreaking or otherwise “rooting” your phone, says Tim Armstrong, virus analyst at Kaspersky Labs. Your smartphone becomes a bigger target for malicious agents when you “jail break” or hack into your phone so that you can download apps from other operating systems or switch mobile carriers.
2. Avoid opening email attachments on your phone. As with desktop malware, mobile attachments can contain malicious programs.
3. Avoid clicking on links in text messages. Text message spam can contain links to malicious websites.
4. When downloading applications be wary of the system resources that the application needs permission to access on your phone. If you are not familiar with the app don’t download it.
5. “Be extra careful of possible phishing sites while using your mobile browser,” says Armstrong. While browsing the internet, apply all of the same precautions to your phone as you would your desktop. When possible, enter the site address directly in the browser. If you click a link to a new page check the URL to make sure you weren’t redirected to an unknown site.
6. Turn your Bluetooth device off when you are not using it. Anyone with a Bluetooth-enabled phone can easily spy on your phone activity, from calls you make to the text messages you send. Also, do not accept Bluetooth messages from strange phone numbers.
7. Lock your phone, and enable remote wipe. “The most common problem affecting mobile users is the physical loss of their phone…from leaving it in the back of a cab to having it stolen,” says Armstrong. Wiping it will keep thieves from accessing any personal information on the phone. Also, make sure you back up the data on your phone.
8. Upload antivirus software. Many smartphones come with some form of antivirus protection, but it doesn’t hurt to get more. Companies like Kaspersky Labs, McAfee, and Lookout Mobile Security will provide you with extra protection along with other critical services.
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