Viruses & Spyware

Many people believe that smartphones and tablets are not susceptible to viruses, spyware and other malware. This is certainly not the case … in fact the more people that use these devices, and the more apps that are available for them, the greater the level of harmful and criminal activity.

The risks

Viruses and spyware can attack your smartphone or tablet via the following means:

  • Downloading from websites that have either deliberately or accidentally been infected by one or more viruses.
  • Downloading apps which are infected. These include apps which are downloaded from the device or operating system’s official store, and increasingly, fake stores which have been set up solely for the purpose of distributing malware.
  • Connecting your device to a computer, for example in order to install updates, sync and load music.

Viruses and spyware can cause very serious consequences including:

  • Identity theft from apps working in the background to steal personal information stored on the phone.
  • Fraud from apps working in the background to steal personal information stored on the phone.
  • Premium rate calls and text messages being sent from your phone without your knowledge.
  • Deletion and corruption of data.
  • A slow or unusable device.
  • Decreased battery life.

Your device could be just carrying a virus – which could then be passed on to other devices (such as computers) via email.

Protecting your mobile device

Apple devices have extremely good built-in safeguards against malware, but are becoming a more popular target for fraudsters, meaning that you should install internet security whatever your device.  .

For personal and home office use there are a number of choices that you can take to decide which internet security app to download. Whichever you choose, make sure it is a repuable brand from a mainstream supplier, and get the best you can afford.

It is important to download updates for security apps as soon as you are prompted to guard against new malware.

  • Always check the security settings in your device to ensure maximum protection.
  • Periodically check on your service provider’s website for updates for your make and model of smartphone or tablet.
  • Before connecting your device to a computer, ensure your computer has the latest antivirus/antispyware and firewall installed and running.
  • When setting up mobile banking, make sure any apps you download for the purpose are published by your bank.
  • Be vigilant against fake stores when downloading apps – do so only from recognised sources.

Jargon Buster

A Glossary of terms used in this article:

Premium rate

A telephone number, typically prefixed by 09, which is very expensive when dialled. Often connected with scams.