Can Smartphones Get Computer Viruses from Websites?
With the rapidly growing popularity and use of smartphones, more and more malware and virus have started to make their ways to your devices. While so far there has been no self-replicating malware like PC viruses made its way onto iOs or Android devices, there are other types of malware including spyware, trojan, adware etc, which could infect your phones. If you are confused and wondering whether your phone can get a virus from websites, read further to clarify your doubt. Besides, talking about the ways your smartphone get a virus and possible signs that indicate your phone is infected, we’ll discuss the precautions you should take to keep your device virus free.
How do smartphones get infected with malware or virus?
No, matter how advanced OS you are using, phones are not immune to viruses. You can install malware accidentally by clicking on an innocent looking download link from an unknown source or a pop-up ad on a website. While browsing on the web, you may simply land on a virus-infected site or run into some malicious or compromised links with malware. In most of the cases, you don’t get malware on phone through simple web-browsing unless you are one of the shadiest sites online or unintentionally clicked something suspicious.
- Downloading apps or software from unauthorized source:
Downloading software from unverified source is a common way to accidentally infect your device with virus or malware. To encourage downloading of such malicious programmes, hackers target the users with innocently looking apps or software, which are nothing but repackaged icons of trusted apps. Once you install such compromised apps from a third-party app store or any unauthentic site, your phone is at a higher risk of malware intrusion.
- Watching porn or surfing illegal sites:
As per a study by Blue Coat, a Web security and Optimization Company, about one-quarter of malware on phones, tabs etc come from adult sites. Watching porn or surfing illegitimate sites on phone may increase the risk of downloading adware and malware onto your devices three times than PC.
- Downloading a fake or malicious app:
Despite Google and Apple’s best efforts to keep Play Store or the App Store free from malicious apps, they still make their way into the official app stores. Downloading an infected app makes your smartphone’s OS more susceptible to malware attack. Before downloading a new app from Play store or App store, check for some reviews about the app and find out if the developer has created any good app in the past.
- Drive-by downloads:
Drive-by download refers to the inadvertent installation of infected app or software onto your phone or device. While surfing websites from the phone, you may land on a webpage that automatically starts installing malware-infected apps onto your device without your knowledge. Even most of the concerned websites that are giving malware are not even aware of the incident. In some cases, some fun apps, games or mobile antivirus apps are also used to direct the users to unauthorized app stores to download them.
- Clicking suspicious download links or in-app ads:
One of the most common ways of getting a virus on your phone is by clicking the malware-infected download links that are inserted as ads into the authentic apps or sites on the web. Once you click on such malicious download link, your device is instantly infected with the malware. The download links can trick the users by featuring a familiar name or icon of popular apps and sites.
- E-mail attachments and SMS:
One of the most common and easiest ways of spreading viruses is through e-mail attachments. If an E-mail attachment contains virus or malware in a form of an infected PDF attachment file and you intend to open it on your phone, it ups the chances of your phone being infected with the virus.
In an attempt to steal your personal data or bank info, hackers try to infect your phones with malware by sending an SMS from an unknown source. The message could contain a link that redirects you to a malicious site or attachment.
Sure-fire signs of an Infected Device
Here are some symptoms you need to watch out for to identify that your Android or iOs device is infected with a virus.
- Increased data usage: Sudden spike in data usage could be a significant sign of a malware-infected phone. Using the mobile data, the virus on your device constantly performs some intensive background tasks and transmits information to the internet from your phone.
- Excess app crashing: If your apps start crashing for no reason, every now and then, your phone could have a virus.
- Unwanted Pop-Ups: If dubious advertisements, notifications, unwanted reminders, system warnings and pop-ups are appearing on your device all the time, it is certainly a warning sign that your phone has a virus.
- Increased phone bill charges: If mysteriously increasing phone bill charges, especially under the SMS category is annoying you, check the message section to find the cause. If your gadget is infected with a malicious virus, it can use your device to send messages or make calls to premium numbers that can lead to high charges.
- Faster Battery drain: Instant darning of a phone’s battery is one of the certain signs of a virus-infected device. If your phone starts running out of battery every now and then, you may want to check for a virus.
How can you keep your phone safe from viruses and malware?
Let’s have a look at some of the sure-fire preventive steps to keep your phone safe from malware and virus.
- Remove dubious apps: Check the list of your installed apps and if find anything unfamiliar just uninstall the app and restart your phone.
- Use the updated OS version: To ensure safety and faster service for your device, make sure that your phone’s OS is running the latest updates.
- Download apps and software from verified source: The best way to ensure safety for your smartphone is to download apps from a reputable source. If downloading app from Play Store, App Store, or Microsoft Store check the ratings and reviews of the app first.
- Do not click on pop-up ads: While browsing internet refrain yourself from clicking random pop-up ads that lead you to install malware on your phone.
- Be aware of unverified links in SMS and emails: Don’t click any suspicious link or attachment in unknown SMS, emails, WhatsApp messages etc.
- A good antivirus app is a must: Install a mobile antivirus app for complete protection from all web-based threats. It scans every app and software before installing it on your device.
By identifying these virus-infected device symptoms early and following these safe practices, you can surely keep your phone safe from such spiteful malware attacks. With a little awareness and precaution, you can keep malware threats at bay.
Michelle writes about cyber security, data privacy focusing on social media privacy as well as how to protect your IoT devices. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years and owns METRONY, LLC. Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Michelle published a guide to Cyber Security for Business Travelers