Can My Smartphone Get a Virus?

We're used to fighting off tricky viruses that try to infect our computers, but can smartphones get viruses too? They can! Tech Talker explains and gives tips on how you can protect your mobile device from malware.

Eric Escobar
4-minute read
Episode #95

How Safe Is Your Smartphone?

Android: Unfortunately Android is probably the least secure mobile operating system. Why, you ask? Well it's open source, meaning the code behind it is available for anyone to look at. This makes writing malicious programs much easier. It would be like seeing into a lock as you were picking it. What makes this problem worse is the fact that the Android OS is so popular. Hackers know if they spend the time writing malware, they can attack a ton of devices.

Now while there are antivirus apps you can install on your Android device, I haven’t found them to be very effective. The best thing to do is to look at what permission access a specific app is looking for. If you’re downloading a fitness app, for example, and it's asking for access to your contacts and text messages, that’s a definite warning sign.

iOS: iOS has been much more immune to malware simply because it is a closed system. However, don’t think for a minute that hackers aren’t trying to write Apple-specific viruses. If this is something you’re really worried about, the best way to thwart a would-be malware infection is to always read app reviews, and to not jailbreak your device.

Windows and BlackBerry: Windows Phone and Blackberry are mostly shielded by their smaller number of users. In my research, I didn’t come across anything substantial in terms of malware for these devices. This could be a combination of the fact that they are less of a target (given their smaller market share) and the fact that they use closed operating systems.

With that, here are your Quick and Dirty Tips for keeping your phone squeaky clean:

1) If something looks fishy, don’t install it.

2) Always download your app from the official store for your device.

3) Keep regular backups of the information on your phone so that if you need to restore your phone, you can!

Well, that's it for today. Be sure to check out all my earlier episodes at quickanddirtytips.com/tech-talker And if you have further questions about this podcast or want to make a suggestion for a future episode, post them on Facebook.com/QDTtechtalker.

Until next time, I’m the Tech Talker, keeping technology simple!


About the Author

Eric Escobar

Tech Talker demystifies technology and cutting edge devices so that even the most tech illiterate can understand what's going on with their computer or gadget — and what to do when something goes wrong.