Smartphones may be smaller, and they use a different operating system, but that doesn’t mean they’re immune to hackers and vulnerabilities. In many ways, they’re at higher risk than personal computers and can provide attackers with a ton of information. So, why don’t they have antivirus programs?
Risks to Smartphone Users Are Increasing
The number of attacks targeting smartphones have jumped in recent months. Why? They’re a better target. In addition to being a personal communication tool, our phones are now connected to businesses and organizations. We’ve filled them with all sorts of sensitive information.
Smartphones are often on unsecured wifi networks, and many of them will automatically connect to these networks when in range. The main reason they’re such a rich target, however, is that they’re easy to penetrate — most users don’t have any sort of security software installed.
Smartphone Users Underestimate the Importance of Security Software
A recent survey by Kaspersky Labs asked European smartphone users about their views on viruses and security software. They found that while 84% of respondents use an antivirus program to protect their PCs, only about one in ten use it to protect their phones. In fact, only 37% have considered using security software. The big question is why?
It turns out a large percentage of people aren’t aware their smartphone needs a security program. They either never thought about it, or felt there weren’t enough threats to warrant it. Others don’t know security programs exist for their phones.
Standard Security Software Won’t Cut It
Smartphones have different security issues than computers. First, smartphones are primarily a communication device, so security programs should manage calls and text messages. Not only does this stop annoying phone calls and text messages, but it prevents you from providing spammers and telemarketers with information and keeps these communications off your bill.
Games and apps also create unique problems for security software. Data is regularly passed between the app, the device, and the server, including financial information. When testing or using apps, make sure they’re safe. You also want to be wary of updates and add-ons, since they’re not always guaranteed to be clean. Therefore, security software needs to be able to scan updates and existing files.
Sometimes, you don’t have to download something to put your phone at risk. Simply browsing the Web can be enough. Because a smartphone does almost everything a computer can do, and new ones on the market can handle additional media such as flash, they get hit with viruses, malware, spyware, and other harmful programs.
The networks they use to access websites can also be an issue. Hackers can use unsecured networks and bluetooth to access information on the phone, make changes, or even track the location of the user.
Did you know your phone can be at risk, even if you’re not using it at the time? Theft can put you and hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people at risk. To prevent this, sign up for a service that allows you to track your smartphone and clean any personal information off it, if the worst should happen.
Attacks and hacks will happen, regardless of whether you’re using a phone or computer. There’s no real way to stop them from doing it, but you can and should protect yourself. Install security software and be aware of what’s happening with your smartphone. After all, a chain, even a virtual one, is only as strong as its weakest link.
Author Bio: Fergal Glynn is the Director of Product Marketing at Veracode, an award-winning application security company specializing in risk management and prevention through static analysis vulnerability scanning.