The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) has developed consumer tips to assist users to protect themselves against the risk of mobile phone viruses.
This guide explains what viruses are, how they spread, and what can be done about them.
What’s a mobile phone virus?
A mobile phone virus or mobile malware - malicious mobile software - is a computer virus specifically adapted for the mobile phone environment and designed to spread from one vulnerable phone to another.
A virus is a program code that replicates by being copied to another program. Viruses can be transmitted as attachments to an email or in a download file. Some viruses take effect as soon as their code is executed; other viruses can lie dormant. A virus that replicates by resending itself as an email attachment or as a part of a network message is known as a worm.
Viruses can range from benign to quite harmful; they can erase data from the infected phone or send fake messages purporting to be from the phones owner. How prevalent are mobile phone viruses? The current security risk from mobile phone viruses and worms is low.
Until many more smart phones or PDAs are in use, and users of these phones are regularly exchanging executable files, the risk will remain low. The mobile industry takes the threat of viruses very seriously and is continually monitoring its networks and working to protect users from any future risk from mobile phone viruses. There are also some simple measures that individual users can implement to protect themselves.
What can I do to protect my phone?
The following tips can help prevent problems with viruses on your phone:
1. Switch to Bluetooth hidden mode. If your phone has Bluetooth capability, ensure that the Bluetooth capability is switched to hidden or invisible mode unless you specifically need it to be visible. This will help prevent other Bluetooth-enabled devices from finding your phone (unless you grant them the necessary permission) and will therefore help protect your phone from worms that spread using the Bluetooth wireless technology.
2. Exercise caution before opening attachments. When accepting applications sent via Bluetooth, or opening MMS attachments, exercise caution, just as you would when opening an email attachment on your PC, because they may include harmful software. Ensure the application or attachment comes from a known source, and is wary of opening files that have unfamiliar text attached to them, even if they come from someone you know.
3. Only download content from a trusted source. Trusted sources may include operator portals and other well-known brands that offer adequate protection against viruses and other harmful software. Be aware though that, as with emails, malicious or fraudulent users may be able to fake the appearance of a trusted source.
4. Consider anti-virus software. Some software is available to prevent phone viruses. You may wish to consider downloading this software.
5. Contact your phone manufacturer if concerned. If you think you have a virus, call the phone manufacturer’s care line. They can assist you confirm if it is a virus, and help fix the problem.
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