Time was when an electronic virus was associated only with computers, but that’s not true anymore. Viruses have been created for almost every electronic device that can be thought of. But now there is a new target that is attracting the attention of an increasing number of hackers – the smartphone.
The smartphone viruses haven’t been able to spread as rapidly as the computer viruses did since therir invention. For example, the main reason for now is that different types of cell phones have different operating systems, and that makes it very difficult to create viruses that work on all of them. Not impossible, but very difficult.
But on the other hand the technology knowhow needed to create them is becoming much easier. A reporter from the BBC was able to create one such virus almost no programming experience. He was able to demonstrate how anyone with internet access can create such malicious code and invade a person’s privacy.
There are subtle differences from the viruses of the old that draw attention to the current generation of smartphone viruses. What makes it even more worrisome is that in a house a computer may be shared, but a phone is almost always likely to be a personal item. A thus, a virus that can steal data or even switch on and spy on the owner can take on a very personal form of privacy invasion. Some viruses like the FlexiSpy can be installed on a phone and have information on voice and even SMS text messages forwarded to an email address. Another scary kind of software is one that can be used to switch the phone on without the victim knowing to allow the attacker to listen in on the conversation going on on the victim’s side.
How do you get infected?
Most viruses are hidden in or packaged in other software like games. An unaware downloader will have an application that does more than he bargained for. If the victim’s phone is easily reachable then an attacker can simply transfer and install the ware using Bluetooth technology. Another way that a smartphone can get infected is while browsing the internet. An innocent-looking site can install the ware without the browser being aware.
How do you know when you are infected?
The first and obvious sign your smartphone is infected will be performance deterioration. While it is expected that any smartphone’s performance will deteriorate with time, a good sign of infection is when it happens immediately after downloading an app or visiting a new website. Also, the battery life may also become shorter if the virus wastes it on sending data and making calls to premium-rate numbers.
Next, is to check if there are any unknown email addresses or numbers that have been dialed to or from the smartphone. Viruses will usually need to export the stolen data in the infected phone and that is usually either to another phone number or website.
And finally, an obvious hint will be the bill. If there are charges for calls made to unknown numbers then it can be safely assumed that an app is making the calls without the owner being aware.
How do you remove the viruses?
The best cure is always prevention. Smartphone owners should make it a point to install an antivirus as soon as the phone is bought. That makes detection and removal of the viruses easier. Another thing that should never be taken for granted is to backup data on the smartphone onto a computer. That will certainly prevent a lot of grief if the phone data cannot be recovered.