With the rise of the smartphone over the past few years, security has become more of a concern for mobile phone providers. Back in the day of the monochrome Nokia ‘brick’ phones, the operating systems which they ran on were very primitive and there wasn’t a great deal of scope for viruses. Back then we used our mobiles to phone and text, there was no Internet, no mobile data, no Email and no updating your Facebook status. Most hackers had little interest in attempting to exploit phones back then since there was very little valuable information they could obtain.
Smartphone SecurityObviously this has all changed, nowadays we use our mobile phone to do everything we would do on our computer, including transferring very sensitive data (usernames, passwords & bank account details just to name a few.) Interestingly though, there is not much emphasis put on antivirus protection for mobile phones, whilst at the same time statistics show that the number of mobile based viruses and malware are on the rise. Vendors often don’t include any antivirus protection on their phones and very little information is given to purchasers in regards to best practices for keeping their phones virus free.
The motives behind smartphone viruses
Since we use our phones for so much, virus creators have many reasons to target them and infect them with malware. Compromising email accounts, Facebook accounts (which can then be used for spamming) and intercepting logon attempts for online banking, EBay & PayPal are just a few examples of why a virus creator would want to target a mobile phone. Since protection isn’t as robust and often the mobile phones won’t have antivirus software installed, they can be seen as ‘easy pickings’ for the virus writers. Sites such as RemovingMalware.org offer malware removal guides but removing malware on a mobile phone is a slightly different (and more taxing) experience than it would be a regular Windows computer.
Antivirus software for smartphonesVendors are now looking at developing antivirus software for mobile phones and there is certainly an opening in the market for it. Kaspersky are a good example of this (check their mobile security product here). The biggest problem for vendors right now is convincing the end users that their phones require protection. Whilst virus attacks on mobiles are not unheard of, they are certainly less common than those that happen on regular computers. Over the next few years, it is likely that this is going to change as we gradually become more and more reliant on our smartphones.
Virus distribution on smartphones
With Bluetooth, Wi-Fi & other short range communications protocols being common on mobiles, virus creators are taking advantage of them and looking for exploits that can enable them to spread their viruses to other phones within the area. This type of virus spreading is much like what a ‘worm’ does and is enabling hackers to distribute their viruses a lot easier than they were able to do several years ago.
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