Viruses are computer programs that are written with the intention of causing unwanted effects on any computer that they succeed in infecting. The impact a virus has on a computer varies greatly depending on the type of virus, some may cause the mildly inconvenient appearance of unwanted messages on the computer screen whilst others may result in serious damage to the software and data stored on the computer. In addition to viruses, there are other forms of malicious program that exist for computers, for instance worms and Trojan horse programs, collectively malicious programs are known as ‘malware’. There are many thousands of different types of computer malware in existence today, the first having been created more than 20 years ago.
As mobile phones have become more sophisticated, they too have become vulnerable to malware. Currently, there is much less mobile phone malware in existence than computer malware and present day mobile phone malware is less sophisticated and poses significantly lower risk than computer malware. It is possible that mobile phone malware will become more common in the future and it is therefore prudent for mobile phone users to take some precautions. Here are some simple steps that you can take to reduce the risk of your phone becoming infected:
- Never install any software onto your mobile phone unless you know and trust the source of that software and you were expecting to receive it. This refers to any software or application that you receive on your phone through any channel, e.g. by download over WAP/web, attached to an SMS, MMS, Instant Message or E-mail, through Bluetooth™, infra-red or data connection, via synchronisation with a computer or from a memory card or other temporary storage device read by the phone.
- Never ignore or override security prompts displayed by your phone unless you are confident that you fully understand the risks associated with this actions.
- Never load unauthorised (‘pirate’) copies of software onto your phone as these may be carrying hidden viruses or other malicious code.
- If you are particularly concerned around the potential infection of your phone by mobile malware, you may wish to consider installing specialist anti-virus software on your phone. Some mobile service providers, together with a number of independent anti-virus companies, offer phone based anti-virus software. Other security software solutions, such as firewalls and anti-adware software are also now available for mobile phones.
If you have reason to believe that your phone may have become infected by malware, you should contact the customer service department at your service provider. They should be able to advise you on the best way in which you can restore your phone to a non-infected state.