If you’ve recently been a victim of a phone virus you’ll know only too well how damaging this can be. The good news is, it is possible to take a few easy steps to protect yourself and minimise your exposure to a virus on your device.
Top 5 tips for protecting your mobile phone from a virus.
1) STICK TO OFFICIAL APPLICATION STORES
Regardless of whether you’ve got an iPhone, Android or BlackBerry, your mobile phone operating system will come with its own official app store. These are typically available through an icon on your smartphone’s main navigation menu.
Whilst it’s possible to get your apps from elsewhere, you may be more likely to come across malicious software or viruses.
Official application stores tend to be safer as they have review processes, however, isn’t foolproof and things can still get through so we still recommend exercising some caution.
Once you’ve found an application on your phone’s app store we recommend checking the following things:
The name of the developer of the software
This can be a dead giveaway for malicious applications. Make sure you grab the correct application from the official developer: for example, the Facebook application should be from “Facebook”, the Google Maps application from “Google Inc.”
Number of downloads
This gives you an indication of how long it has been available and how many other people have tested it.
Star rating of the application
By sticking to applications with a high rating, you can keep yourself away from badly written, buggy and malicious applications. We recommend applications with a rating of at least 3 out of 5.
Comments and reviews
If it’s a malicious application, there will often be negative comments or reviews.
Find an official link
For particularly sensitive and important applications such as online banking, it is recommended to follow a link to the download page from your bank’s official website. This will ensure that the application you’ve downloaded is the official one.
2. CHECK APPLICATION PERMISSIONS
Android runs every application in its own sandbox environment. Rather than giving every application full control over your entire device, each application must request those permissions individually during installation. You should pay close attention to the requested permissions when installing a new application.
In particular, you should keep an eye out for applications that:
• Request the ability to send text messages and make phone calls
• Request access to read your SMS text messages, the contents of your SD card and address book
• Request access to the internet
For example, a torch light application shouldn’t request to access your text messages – this is a clear warning sign of a malicious application. Pay careful attention to applications that request access to the internet. Whilst there are many legitimate reasons for this, they can also use this privilege to “phone home” with your personal information.
3) AVOID JAILBREAKING AND ROOTING YOUR PHONE
By rooting or jailbreaking your handset, you remove many of your phone’s built-in security safeguards. This can allow malicious applications to burrow themselves into the operating system and take over your phone.
4) DOWNLOAD AN ANTI-VIRUS APPLICATION
Anti-virus applications can scan all of the applications that you download for malicious code and known viruses. There are over 20 anti-virus applications to choose from but popular ones include Avast, McAfee Mobile Security, Kaspersky Mobile Security and Lookout. Many of these apps also include additional features such as the ability to remotely track your phone if it gets lost or stolen.
5) UPDATE YOUR OPERATING SYSTEM REGULARLY
To ensure that any known security vulnerabilities are closed off on your device, you should update the operating system software on a regular basis. You can do this by connecting your phone to a computer and running the relevant update software.
Alternatively, you may be able to perform an over-the-air (OTA) update through the ‘Settings’ menu on your phone.