I often get asked whether it’s possible to get a virus on your phone or tablet. The answer is an absolute YES.
It seems odd that we hear about computers getting viruses or malware all the time, but it isn’t too often that you hear of a mobile phone getting a virus. And yet it happens. Phones are not immune to viruses.
The answer lies in how you install software onto your phone or tablet. You most often do that through an app store – such as Google Play for Android devices or the App Store for Apple iPhones.
When a developer signs up to submit an app to one of those marketplaces, they generally have to give up their personal information. When they submit their app, the code gets reviewed by the company in charge of the store. Only after a series of checks can the app be published in the store for users to download.
Now let’s compare this process to computer programs. I could write a program right now and post it online. Anyone could download and run it against the wishes of their antivirus and that’s it. There’s no review of the code, and no need for the developer to give up their personal information. While this makes developing software easier, it definitely makes for software that is much more insecure and troublesome. However, even though there is a pretty rigorous review process for apps, things can still get by the checks that the reviewers use.
Last week a new virus was spread through text messages! It started in Russia. The virus sends a text message saying “Is this your photo?” in Russian. The message then has a link to an Android application package (.APK) file containing a copy of a piece of malware called “Android/Samsapo.A”. It can then download other malicious files to an infected phone, steal personal information including text messages from a device, and even block phone calls.