Mobile Malware Manifesto

Today’s smart phones are some of the greatest technologies ever made.  You have the ability to do almost everything from your phone that you can do from your laptop, PC or even Mac.  I like to tell people that having a smart phone is as close to having an even more portable laptop in the palm of your hand as you can get.  There is so much you can do from sending emails to watching security cameras at your business to keeping up with your favorite blog, which of course, is Tech Corner.  Then there is the flip side of having a smart phone: Keeping it safe from mobile malware.

Some people are shocked to learn that your phone can become infected, just like your computer.  In much the same way you get the evils of the internet on your home or business machine, your phone can catch the nasties as well.  The first time malware appeared on a phone was in June 2004 and it has been growing ever since.  I know what you’re thinking, “I don’t know if I like this guy, Bo.  He always has something scary to say”.  Don’t worry, though! I have more.  Mobile malware can infect you from emails, websites, downloads, unsecured public WiFi connections, and Bluetooth. You read that correctly.  Most of us have our Bluetooth turned on all the time and if your phone is infected and the infection is programmed to do so, then it can travel across the connection and attach itself to other phones.  Many of us use our phones to check bank accounts, log on to Facebook, Twitter, send and receive email, and do the everyday tasks that require us to sit in front of a computer and this malicious software can log every bit of it and use all of our data.

If you’re asking yourself, “why do people create these stupid things for?!”, then I’ll try to answer that for you.  I have seen infections do harmless acts such as; opening and closing your DVD/CD drive, to just sitting there saying, “boo! I’m a virus”.  Then there are the infections that can be destructive.  One infection I have seen literally burnt the insides of a laptop up. I wouldn’t think that anyone would program something as bad and malicious as that for your phone though.  That would be a waste of time to the professional smart phone malware and virus programmers.  The majority of infections have one purpose and that is to grab your data and send it back to its master, who will then use it for his own purpose: the all mighty dollar.  That’s the point of most infections; to try and make its master money. With the creation of smart phones it may be harder for the John Hackers to program their malicious gophers but our data is quite a bit more accessible to them and with all of us switching to and playing with these devices like Howie Mandel going through Germ-X, there is an over abundance of information for them to grab.

Please try your best to download your apps from the Apple App Store or the Android Market Place. If you download from a third party app location your chances of getting the smart phone equivalent of SARS or the Bird Flu increase. People are starting to discover what is known as key loggers in many alternate keyboard apps you can download. A key logger is an infection that will record every time you touch a key on the keyboard and send it back for its master’s use. Which, many of the newest smart phone infections are coming out China so be on more constant vigil. At the same time we have our own malicious people creating and distributing this junk. And these people are innovative. You may not see many smart phone charging kiosks around but they exist and the John Hackers of the world are utilizing them for their own gain. It’s called Juice Jacking and it involves using these charging kiosks. When you plug up your data could be copied, taken off and stored on a flash drive or hard drive for John Hacker to use. In the same instance your data is being stolen an infection could be loaded up to your phone.

With the coming of all these fantastic technologies and awesome innovations are the people who are going to take advantage of and manipulate them. More so with the Windows 7 phones and the Android based phones. The operating systems on these two phones are easier for John Hacker to take advantage of because the code written to make them work can be seen by anyone who is inclined to. When it comes to Apple it takes an act of God to see how any of their technology works until after it’s released. Then you have to be in the “in crowed” to see any of their code written to make the devices function.  It isn’t impossible to infect your iPhone but much less likely. Never fear though, when it comes to smart phone infections there’s an app for that.  Just go to the location where you download your apps and do a search for an anti virus and/or malware scanner.  Be sure to read the user comments and ratings before you install anything.

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