Jun 30, 2011

Can cellphones get viruses?

Can my cellphone get a virus? I have a Droid Incredible. Hyperbole aside, I think it's a good little phone.

It's possible if you're using a smart phone.

Not unless you're downloading apps from shady sources. Otherwise, you generally don't have to worry about it. Any reports of viruses or malware you hear about is most likely from an app that was NOT in any official app store and was downloaded from one of those pirated app websites.


Also, be sure to check what permissions an app is asking for before you download it. If you're not comfortable with what you see or it doesn't make sense (e.g. a wallpaper app that asks permission to send SMS messages), don't download it.

Hi mstrauss,

You might want to check out Lookout for virus protection.


"Android Virus Scanner Keeps Your Phone Protected
With over 200,000 apps available on the Android Market, you can do almost anything with a mobile app these days. Find the fastest way home, order takeout, post a captioned picture, search for a new apartment or a new partner, and even bump phones to settle up a bill with friends. But it seems like the more useful the app, the more information it needs about you—and not all apps are who they say they are.

A growing number of apps have been found with malware embedded in them. Mobile apps that contain malware can steal your private information, freeze or wipe data from your phone and potentially run up your bill by dialing or texting premium rate numbers without your knowledge. Spyware apps can track your location, eavesdrop on calls, read your email and even turn your phone into a sound recorder. With all the uses you have for your smartphone, you need to be sure that your Android device is free of malicious software – and that it stays that way.

The Leader in Android Virus Protection
With millions of users across 170 countries and 400 mobile networks worldwide, Lookout is the world’s #1 Android virus scanner. And for good reason: aside from receiving consistently high ratings from users like you, the Lookout Android security app was selected as a PC World Top Product for 2010 and awarded a rare five star review from CNET in 2011. You can trust Lookout to provide the most comprehensive and reliable Android virus protection you can find anywhere."

This news article says that over one million phones in China were hit with a virus that sent spurious text messages without the users' knowledge, resulting in millions of dollars in losses.




I'm not aware of any Android viruses, but there are several rootkits available to Android hackers that will let you dig into your system to change stuff under the hood. Most people who do this aren't malicious, but it's apparently not that difficult to break into Android if you're a talented programmer.

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