Malware Invades Your Mobile World

by Jeff Wiener on February 10, 2011

It seems that an unavoidable part of the evolution of instant communication over the past two decades has been the constant threat of viruses and other malware. But what was once almost the exclusive domain of bogus emails–lofty promises of magic pills and enhanced physical um… endowments–viruses are now on the move, away from your computers and onto, surprise surprise, your mobile devices.

While you might think that such an evolution of cybercrime would be inevitable, many mobile users remain unaware of the risks that malware, spyware, trojans, and other viruses pose to their mobile devices. The harsh reality is, cyber-criminals have quietly followed the path of the naively innocent average tech user, and they’re here to stay.

With noted antivirus software manufacturer McAfee reporting that new mobile malware increased by a whopping 46 percent in 2010 over the previous year, you can bet that 2011 will again see an increase in mobile viruses, and with tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices increasingly becoming integral parts of our private and corporate lives, you simply can’t afford to be naïve about this growing issues any longer.

While our official mandate here at TheTelecomblog has always been to bring our readers the latest telecom news, thoughts, analysis and opinion, I have often thought that through these foci our subsequent mandate has been to educate and inform, making our readers aware not only of the latest gadgets, news, and scandals, but of the potential threats to their mobile existence as well.

What I have found surprising, however, is just how naïve people are about the vulnerabilities of their mobile devices, thinking that somehow their mobile devices are impervious to viruses and other cybercrimes. But the reality of the situation is that mobile devices, whether a smartphone or a tablet, are mini computers, with the added downside that mobile operating systems like Android and Apple’s iOS, unlike PC operating systems for instance, generally lack the security infrastructure to protect users from such threats.

The recognition of the mobile virus threat will only become more important in 2011, as mobile banking, instant payment, and other applications that involve your money become increasingly prevalent. Beyond that, the fact that users are increasingly using the same devices for business and pleasure means that viral infections brought in from an ill-advised app download, for instance, can have far reaching affects.

Further, with social networking sites acting like a virtual breeding ground for viruses, the increasing consumer focus on constant connection and social network gaming poses an immense threat to your mobile security as well. With Flash and PDF files both an intrinsic part of our social networking existence and the easiest kinds of files to infect with viruses, perhaps you’ll think twice before clicking on that email link on your smartphone.

So how do you avoid becoming a virus victim? The answer is, as it always seems to be, to use your common sense. Don’t click on links from unknown sources, don’t open suspect files that promise magic solutions to business or personal issues, don’t download 3rdparty apps from untrustworthy sites, and most of all, don’t forget that your smartphone or tablet is a computer and thus should be treated accordingly. Be safe out there, its your information after all.

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