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How To Protect Your Phone From Computer Viruses

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By: Shimon Brathwaite

November 3, 2021

Mobile phones have become one of the most popular personal devices: they contain our personal information, photos, banking information, and many other things that hackers like to target. Because mobile devices are used to browse the internet, they can be susceptible to viruses just like a normal computer. Most people have gotten text messages claiming to be from a bank, mail service, or some other type of business, asking them to click on a link and log in from the device. Phishing campaigns are just one example of how hackers try to trick people into downloading a computer virus on their phone. Everyone who uses their phone for streaming, downloading apps, and just regular browsing runs the risk of getting a virus. This article is a guide on how to protect your phone from contracting a computer virus.

Computer viruses for mobile devices

When it comes to mobile malware, the most common types are adware, ransomware, spyware, trojan horses, and worms. They can be spread through any means, but the most common methods are pretending to be legitimate applications, fake emails, or infected attachments.

Adware: This type of malware causes a phone to display ads seemingly randomly. The purpose here is usually to generate revenue by displaying the ads or getting people to click on them. Besides being an annoyance, adware is usually harmless, but some may track activity or root the device to steal data.

Ransomware: This type of malware encrypts the files on your phone and demands a ransom payment to regain access to personal information. This type of malware is one of the most profitable, especially when used in a business setting where the information is critical.

Spyware: This malware is often attached to an application and covertly tracks activity, location, username, passwords, and other valuable information. It then sends that back to the malware owner. As the name suggests, this malware is meant to spy on people, and they are often unaware that this software is installed on their phones.

Trojan Horse: This type of malware pretends to be a legitimate application to get people to install it. A common example would be an email attachment that looks like an Excel, pdf, or Word document but is actually a computer virus. Once the malware is downloaded, it carries out whatever the malware author programmed it to do.

Computer Worms: While computer viruses spread with the assistance of another program (e.g., text messages), a computer worm can replicate and spread - without the help of any other service - to any device on the same network as the infected device. Computer worms are completely self-sufficient, and their goal is to infect as many devices as possible.

Signs your phone has a virus

Abnormal data usage: An infected phone may have a virus that abnormally increases data usage. If your data usage is higher than normal or goes up without your knowledge, this may be a sign of infection.

Unusual charges: Some malware generates money for the malware author through in-app purchases or text charges to premium accounts.

Apps Crashing: Another significant indicator is that phone apps will crash unexpectedly. Legitimate issues can cause this, but if a typically stable app suddenly begins crashing, this is a bad sign even though your behavior hasn't changed.

Excessive pop-ups: As I mentioned above, adware is a very popular malware for mobile devices, so if multiple pop-ups start appearing, this may be a sign of infection. Get a free browser ad blocker plugin to decrease the occurrence of pop-ups while browsing, but this doesn't resolve the core issue.

Unknown Apps: If you notice phone applications that you didn't install, this is another big giveaway for malware. Some malware will try to install applications secretly, and this can be a big giveaway.

Tips for protecting your phone from getting a virus

Download verified apps: Avoid third-party app stores because they are typically not screened as thoroughly as applications in the Apple or Google Play Store.

Use secure wifi: Try to avoid public or other unknown wifi sources. Use your home wifi, your data, or connect using a VPN to prevent people from reading personal communications.

Update the phone: Many times, security updates are pushed out to the phone and the applications on the phone whenever an issue is detected. Keeping everything up-to-date significantly reduces the number of vulnerabilities that a hacker can target.

Change browser and phone settings: All phones have a default browser that comes with the phone, and often people choose to install Google Chrome as their browser of choice. All of these browsers can be configured to enhance security and privacy. Take the opportunity to change the browser settings to maximize security and privacy when browsing the internet. Phones also have security settings and usually come with a default security scanning feature. Use that to prevent or detect viruses on your phone.

Install antivirus: Antivirus is the best overall solution for preventing and detecting malware. You can find multiple antivirus vendors for ios or android and run the software regularly to find and remove any malware threats.

Use a VPN: It's a good idea to use a VPN when connecting to public wifi. It's impossible to know who may be sitting on those networks and trying to look at the traffic, so it's best to use a VPN for protection.

Don't open suspicious messages: Phishing messages sent over text are becoming more and more convincing. People can find all types of information about you online and use that information to create very convincing messages. Don't click any links from unknown numbers and navigate to the website yourself. To confirm if something is legitimate, go to the website from a laptop.

__Don't jailbreak your phone:__text in bold Keeping your phone rooted allows the necessary updates and patches to be installed. Jailbreaking a phone opens up the phone to many vulnerabilities that a hacker can exploit.

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