Mobile Phones are Under Malware Attack

By Jessica Drew
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Almost everyone these days knows about the viruses, Trojans and spyware that attack PCs and has an anti-virus software suite that affords them some protection. However, the newest growing threat is malware that attacks smartphones. Smartphones are mini computers in themselves and can absolutely become infected with all types of malware. While creating viruses for mobile phones has presented some unique challengers to hackers, the virus writers are meeting these challenges, and more and more malware for mobile users is being created all the time.

How are Mobile Phones Being Attacked?

Hackers are able to create highly effective viruses for PCs because the Windows operating system carries such a large share of the market. The Windows OS is the same on every Windows PC, meaning hackers can create just one type of virus to infect any machine that runs Windows. However, the smartphone market is much more diversified. There are several smartphone manufacturers, and different phones run a variety of operating systems. This makes it harder for hackers to reach as many victims. However, as smartphones become more critical to the everyday lives of average people, hackers are spending more and more time creating different versions of their viruses to infiltrate several different mobile operating systems.

What Does Mobile Malware Do?

Mobile malware can do just about everything a virus on your PC can do – and more. For starters, viruses can bog down your phone's processing speeds, hack your email and send out spam to all your contacts, randomly delete your important files and calendar entries, and initiate system-wide crashes. One of the worst and most recent viruses that targets only mobile phones eventually causes the infected phone to lock up completely, making it unusable. However, some smartphone malware can access your camera and photos. It can steal all the images saved on your camera and actually hijack the camera to take photos at random.

How Do You Get Mobile Malware?

You can get malware on your smartphone just as you can get it on your PC. Most viruses are picked up from downloading a corrupt email attachment or visiting a phishing website. You can also get viruses on your phone through shared links on mobile social networking apps and other peer-to-peer sharing applications. Another way you can get viruses on your smartphone is through wireless syncing with your PC. As futuristic as it sounds, if you have a virus on your computer, when you sync your phone and your computer for any reason, your computer can actually transmit that virus to your phone! There have been real cases in which this has happened, although at present this is a somewhat rare occurrence.

What About the iPhone?

The iPhone is taking up the majority share of the smartphone market, and iPhone users are growing in number by the day. Experts predict that more and more hackers will target the iPhone as it continues to grow in popularity. Apple has largely enjoyed a very closed business model, limiting iPhone users to purchasing only Apple-approved apps. This type of operation kept hackers at bay for the most part; however, U.S. courts recently ruled that jailbreaking iPhones is legal. This means that thousands of users who choose to jailbreak or gain root access to their iPhones can legally download apps made for other mobile operating systems. Apple is dismayed by this decision and warns that this gives hackers leeway to create effective malware for the iPhone.

The good news is that several big-name, top-rated anti-virus manufacturers now include mobile anti-virus applications with their software.

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