Can smartphones get infected with viruses or malware?

Updated: 06/30/2020 by Computer Hope
computer virus

Viruses and malware are often associated with computers, like a desktop or laptop computer. However, with the increasing popularity and use of smartphones and the personal data they contain, viruses and malware have started to target smartphones. While less common today, smartphones can be infected by a virus or malware program.

How does a smartphone get infected?

Bad apps

The most common way for a smartphone to get infected is by downloading an app with a virus or malware embedded inside the app code. When the app is installed, the virus or malware infects the smartphone operating system, like Android OS or iOS.

E-mail attachments

An e-mail can infect a smartphone if the user attempts to open an attachment with a virus or malware. For example, an infected PDF attachment can infect a smartphone.

SMS or bad website

Another common tactic to infect smartphones is done through an SMS. For example, an unknown contact could send you a link to visit that sends you an infected attachment, attempts remote control, or attempts to phish private information.

How to protect your smartphone from getting infected

The best way to protect your smartphone is to only download apps from a verified, reputable source. Google Play for Android phones and App Store for iPhone are the best places to download apps. Apps in these online stores are checked for viruses and malware and much less likely to cause problems for your smartphone.

You can also download and install antivirus and anti-malware apps for your smartphone. For example, AVG Antivirus is available for Android phones, Avast SecureMe for iPhones, and Kaspersky Safe Browser are examples of apps that help protect smartphones from malware.

I heard iPhones can't get infected

Apple and other sources state that iPhones cannot get infected by viruses or malware. The iOS operating system is designed to limit access to core functionality and the ability to execute actions and code that would interact with core functionality. Doing so makes iOS more secure and less likely to get infected. However, the iPhone and the iOS operating system is not invulnerable, especially if jailbreaking or rooting is used to unlock the phone. An infection is still possible, and it's best to be careful what and where apps are obtained.

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