Are You Vulnerable to Smartphone Viruses and Malware

Uh, yes.

The good news is that some smart phones are safer than others.

But that also depends on how you’ve cared for it.

For example, Apple’s wildly popular iPhone is built on a restrictive platform that protects it from being vulnerable to viruses and malware being installed on it. Thank goodness.

That all goes out the window however, if you’ve jailbroken your iPhone. To “jailbreak” one’s iPhone is to modify the phone’s operating system. People often do this when they have an older model phone and they want to install features that may be offered in a newer version than they currently own. “Jailbreaking” gives greater control over the device, including being able to remove the Apple-imposed restrictions to install apps from sites other than the official app store. Yet, it’s exactly the removal of those well-designed restrictions that takes the protective shield away from the iPhone’s operating system, and puts the smart phone at risk to hackers and thieves.

Note: do not jailbreak your iPhone.

It’s those hackers and thieves that have captured their prey lately in another highly popular smart phone: the Google Android phone. Forbes magazine reported earlier this month that there’s a new nasty virus attacking Droids that when installed, contains no malicious code and therefore goes undetected. But wait, there’s more. After a few hours or a few days, the sinister app downloads a new code from a remote server and hides the data transfer from the user. 

This black ops code, called “GingerBreak,” wrecks havoc for the user by granting complete access to the device, including any of the following:

  • Reading data
  • Listening through the microphone
  • Calling paid phone numbers
  • Installing additional apps
  • Sending text messages to paid numbers
  • Transfer money

And that’s the stuff that keeps IT departments tossing in their sleep – what a security nightmare for a highly mobile workforce.

Google has provided a patch for “GingerBreak” and as long as your device has been updated since May of last year, they maintain that you should be protected from this specific virus. Furthermore, Google has developed an internally utilized program called “Bouncer” that scans all apps uploaded to the Market. Bouncer checks for known malware and simulates the apps running on a device in an effort to evade future evolutions of the GingerBreak virus.

Unfortunately, hackers are resilient little buggers and will not be deterred. The risk of a mobile phone getting hacked is not going to go away, but you can reduce your risk of a phone hacking by doing the following:

  1. Use passwords! Don’t use the same one for everything, or that can be easily guessed, or please, are the default passwords that came with the phone.
  2. Keep your Smartphone updated. Sync it often so you don’t miss any important patches or operating system upgrades.
  3. Employ remote phone security. If you lose your phone, remotely lock it down or wipe out the data.
  4. Turn off your Bluetooth. Significant hacking occurs via Bluetooth.
  5. Request that your voicemail require a password to access it. Hackers can very easily spoof your number and operate the voicemail without having to know your number.


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