The last thing you want is a latent
Trojan that sits in the background and
steals all of your sensitive data. Think
you’re safe from a smartphone
infection? I wouldn’t be too sure.
Viruses are most prevalent on PC
platforms, yes, but these past few years
have proven that smartphone viruses
are real . Are you safe?
Considering how integral smartphones
now are to everyday life, it’s scary to
think how much damage can be done
by malware – and sometimes all it
takes is one lapse in judgment to
become infected. Keep reading to find
out what these infections could do to
you, how to detect them, and how to
shield yourself from them.
The Worst Smartphone Malware
Smartphone malware infections might
seem like a recent concern, but the first
attack goes back nearly a full decade.
How bad can malware be?
The first notable attack was on Symbian OS, the world’s most popular
smartphone operating system prior to
Android’s rise to fame in 2010. The
Cabir worm was a proof-of-concept
virus in 2004 that could spread to other
phones through Bluetooth. The constant scan for Bluetooth devices reduced battery life, but otherwise it was harmless.
Then, in 2005, Symbian phones were hit
by the Commwarrior virus . This too was relatively harmless, but it proved that viruses could spread through MMS (text messages with images, videos, or
sounds). Prior to this, mobile attacks
were localized due to the limited range
of Bluetooth. With Commwarrior,
distance was no longer a limit.
As Android exploded in popularity, it
became the target of malware
developers. The Gingermaster Trojan
exploited a security hole in the
Gingerbread version of Android, allowing the virus to elevate itself to superuserpermissions. With unfettered access, Gingermaster gathered phone data andsent it off to a remote address forcollection.
This particular virus is a good example
of why Android app permissions are
important and the potential dangers of
rooting Android .
And if you thought iOS was immune to
viruses, think again. Although Apple
tries to maximize app security by
exercising strict control over the App
Store, some things can slip through.
The Ikee worm exploited a vulnerability
in jailbroken devices and spread using
the SSH protocol. Fortunately, it was
harmless and only replaced the
wallpaper with a photo of Rick Astley.
However, it did prove that iOS wasn’t
as virus-proof as some defenders had
Symptoms of Smartphone Malware
Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of
malware is its stealthy and deceptive
nature. For as long as you remain in the
dark, malware can sit back and do its
thing. It’s only when you know you’re
infected that you can take the proper
steps towards removing the threat. So,
how can you tell if your phone has been
infected by malware?
Decreased battery life is a huge signal
that should always raise a red flag. It
won’t always mean an infection – it
could be as simple as a buggy app
that’s hogging a lot of CPU – but it
should make you suspicious. Malware is always trying to collect information,
always tapping into data streams, and
always attempting to spread, and all of
those processes make your phone work
Again, battery drain is not always a
sign of something malicious. If you’re
having issues with it, check out these
tips for extending Android battery life .
Decreased performance. In the same
vein as the battery life sign above,
malware tends to slow down your
phone’s speed. You only have so much
processing power. When malware is
constantly running in the background, it
leaves even fewer resources for the rest
of your apps. In most cases, you should
notice the performance hit.
Interrupted calls and apps. Malware is
invasive and it often likes to interfere
with running processes in order to
snoop and pull information to which it
might not normally have access. The
result is that calls might unexpectedly
drop (especially when malware tries to
reroute them) and apps might
unexpectedly crash. If these problems
start occurring out of the blue, you may
There are some other yellow flags that
could raise suspicions, but these are
major warnings that you shouldn’t
Mobile Security With Safe Habits
If you suspect malware on your phone,
there are a few antivirus tools you could
use to diagnose and remove the
infections. It may seem unnecessary but not using antivirus app is one of the
most common smartphone security
mistakes. Better to be safe than sorry.
Some recommended apps include:
* 360 Security (Free, Android & iOS):
This wonderful app not only scans
for actual infections but also for
vulnerabilities in your system. It’s
also equipped with automatic
protection to ease your mind. On
top of malware defense, 360
Security is even useful for anti-
theft protection, power saving, and
blocking unwanted calls and texts.
* Avira Mobile Security (Free, Android & iOS): Avira has an on-
demand and automatic app
scanner that negates most mobile
threats. It can also track your
phone’s location, lock it down
remotely, and detect hacked emails
and notify your contacts that your
email has been comprised. It’s
light on the battery, too, so it’s a
good choice if you’re worried about
* avast! Mobile Security (Free, Android): avast! is an acclaimed
antivirus app that deserves its
reputation. It can scan and remove
malware, but like the two apps
above, it has a few extra bells and
whistles on top of that: anti-theft
measures, network meter, app
locks, firewall, and more. The
ability to schedule automatic
periodic scans makes this one the
most convenient option.
All in all, these three apps are all great
and packed full of security features.
Which one should you use? It comes
down to personal preference.
Other tips that will maximize your
Reputable downloads only . Being
reckless with downloads is
essentially the same as leaving the
door open and inviting every
stranger into your home. Not every
shady download will harm you, but
eventually one will. That’s not a
risk worth taking. Only download
apps that have gained a good reputation.
Learn the risks of rooting and
jailbreaking. With our Android
rooting guide and iOS jailbreak
guide, it’s never been easier to
unlock the full potential of your
phone. However, you should be
aware of the risks and security
issues that accompany such
Scan for issues regularly. There
are times when an infection
doesn’t show any obvious signs.
There are few feelings worse than
running a malware scan for the first
time in six months only to realize
that you’ve been compromised for
most of that period. Once every
week is enough for most users.
If you only take away one thing from all
of this, just remember that smartphone
viruses are real. Be careful and vigilant
whenever your phone is connected to
WiFi, Bluetooth, or data. You never
know when malware could find its way
onto your device.
Has your phone ever been infected by a
virus? Tell us about it. How bad was it?
How did you get rid of it? What steps do
you take now to stay safe? Share your
thoughts with us in the comments