What you should know about cell phone viruses

By now, just about everyone is familiar with viruses, malware and phishing attacks that can crash your computer and compromise your identity. Most people know to keep their anti-virus and security software up to date, not to click on unknown links or attachments in emails and never to give out personal information without knowing where it’s going.

Now, the bad guys out there are moving to the mobile world and you need to be sure your cell phones and smart phones are protected.

First of all, you’ve got to know the dangers and the warning signs. If your phone is moving slowly or getting a large amount of spam texts, a virus might be at fault. These viruses are often spread through free download offers, such as a free ringtone. Your best protection is to never install any unknown software attached to incoming messages you receive.

Another way a cell phone viruses spread is through Bluetooth technology. The Cabir virus uses Bluetooth to find cell phones within 100 feet, sends itself to those devices and drain the batteries of those devices through continual Bluetooth scans. Protect your phone by setting your Bluetooth mode to "hidden." Also, keep Bluetooth off when you're not using it.

Finally, lock your phone according to manufacturer instructions and use a strong password to protect access to your contacts, emails and calendar.

Smartphones, (iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry) are in less danger from viruses for now, since viruses can’t be spread between these different operating systems. However, you’re not out of the mobile security woods. Since these smartphones are like computers in that they can install and run software applications, your biggest danger comes in the form of malicious programs. Be sure to set your smartphone not to allow installation of any applications from sources other than the official source (iPhone’s App Store, Android Market, BlackBerry AppWorld). Also, install a program such as Lookout Mobile Security for your Android, BlackBerry or Windows Mobile phone.

Just like in nature, Viruses are always evolving and hackers are always working to find new ways to steal and cause trouble. But if you use common sense security practices, you can protect your mobile device from cell phone viruses and malicious apps.

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