Keep Your Phone Free of Viruses

Most of us these days have internet access, and can't really imagine life without it. Everything that you need to do from getting cinema tickets to clothes shopping can be done quickly and easily online. And with so many broadband deals and mobile dongle deals around, getting online is cheap too. But the internet can be a dangerous place, with viruses, malware and spyware being prevalent. The majority of us are smart enough to run anti-virus software on our home computers to protect ourselves against our data being damaged or stolen. However, with more and more people using their mobile phones to access the internet, there's a growing problem with mobile viruses. Given the huge explosion in mobile malware in the last year or so, running anti-virus software on your phone should be a matter of habit, and yet for most of us it's not. Today we're talking about mobile viruses, how your phone protects you, why should be running mobile anti software on top of your phone's protection, and which programmes you should think about getting. So if you're concerned about the safety of your mobile, read on to find out more...

What are Mobile Viruses?

Firstly, let's start by saying that the threat of mobile viruses is directed mostly towards Android phones, rather than Windows or iOS operating systems. Therefore, we will direct this article mostly towards Android users. Viruses on mobile phones are a little different than those on computer systems, mostly because mobile viruses tend not to self-replicate. When you get a virus on your phone it's because you downloaded something containing the virus and then gave it permission to run, as opposed to on a computer where viruses can automatically install without you knowing about it. The other major difference is that because apps run independently it's tough for viruses on mobiles to affect other apps and the phone's operating system, though it is possible. This does mean that you're slightly safer on your mobile phone than you are on your home computer. But there are a couple of major threats to your mobile safety. This biggest threat is spyware. Spyware generally comes from downloading an app that contains the programme. The app will request permission to access certain parts of your phone, and you'll agree because you want to run the app you just installed. The spyware will be included in this bundle and will therefore be able to access your phone's operating system or your personal data, and it will then send this information back to the app's developer. These apps generally look extremely professional and legitimate. The other common trick is to send SMS Trojans. These run in the background of your phone and send SMS messages, usually to international premium rate numbers that are owned by the developer. The developer gets money from the premium rate number, and you don't notice anything is wrong until you check your phone bill.

How Your Phone Protects Itself...

iPhone 5As long as you're running the latest version of Android, your phone does go a long way towards protecting itself. Apps that are sold or downloaded through Google Play are scanned for malware and should be safe, and on top of that should a Google Play app be found to contain malware then Google can remotely uninstall the app from your phone as soon as it's withdrawn from the Google Play Store. Android 4.2 has several protection features. It does scan apps that are downloaded from sources other than Google Play, though you'll be asked if you want to scan the app as it's being downloaded and you'll have to agree to this to be sure that the app is safe. And Android 4.2 has also blocked premium rate SMS messages from apps (though you can still send them yourself through the SMS function), meaning that this scam is technically impossible if you're running 4.2. Plus, as long as you're careful about which permissions you give to which apps you should also be relatively safe.

So Why Do I Need Anti-Virus Software Too?

Given how much your Android phone is already doing to protect you and your data from harm, you might be wondering why on earth you'd also need an anti-virus programme. Firstly, Android and Google do as much as they can to protect you, but all it takes is for you to agree to downloading the wrong app or for you to accidentally give the wrong permissions to the wrong app and Android can no longer protect you. Also, Android, like any phone operating system, does have holes, and hackers and scam artists are constantly working to uncover these holes and to take advantage of them. Things change quickly in the mobile world, and once a hole has been discovered it will take time for Android to find it and patch it, and all the while your personal information is being taken. Finally, new forms of viruses, malware and spyware appear on the market all the time. Having a good anti-virus programme will give you an additional layer of protection on top of what your phone already offers you, and when it comes to things like running personal banking apps on your phone you really shouldn't do so without decent anti-virus software running in the background.

Which Programme is Best?

There are many mobile anti-virus programs available on the market, and as with any kind of software some programmes are just better than others. There are a few well known programmes that consistently get good reviews and good results though. Avast, Kaspersky, Dr. Web,  Ikarus and F-Secure are the top five programmes when it comes to mobile anti-virus protection. Any of these should do a good job of providing you with an additional level of protection for your mobile device.  Running anti-virus software on your home computer is a great idea, and something that most of us do without a second thought. However, with more and more mobile malware being discovered, running anti-virus programmes on your mobile phone should be considered essential too. 

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