Gadget Guy: Cell Phone Viruses

We all know someone who’s had a computer virus or you’ve been lucky enough to get one on your own machine. It’s never a good thing, and on the other end of it is most likely a teenage computer geek who spent a few hundred too many hours playing Dungeons & Dragons.

Viruses that attack your computer can do anything from nothing, to key-logging everything you type, such as username password combos to bank accounts and SSN’s. Imagine that in a smaller package on a device that’s in your pocket or purse all hours of the day.

Cell phone viruses haven’t been a huge problem since the first was released in 2004, however with the rise of Pocket PC and Bluetooth enabled phones, the clock is ticking.

Similar to computer viruses, most are brought in to your device via a message or a download, however almost all newer cells have Bluetooth connections that can make your phone vulnerable anytime you’re within range of another Bluetooth enabled phone.

Specifically, if you have a habit of downloading ring tones or receiving the joke of the day you are putting yourself into a higher category of risk. On the Bluetooth side of things if you leave your phone in the “discoverable” mode you are doing something similar to leaving the front door of your house open while your away at vacation.

We all know what computer viruses can do, but what about your phone? Hackers have a few tricks up their sleeves. They can choose from having your phone send texts to numbers that charge a dollar or more per text, or send your contact list to a remote location.

The advanced viruses may be capable of recording anything you type into your phone, such as account numbers and PIN’s to pulling your personal files and photos from a Pocket Pc type phone.

One thing the virus authors have against them is diversity. Unlike the fact that most all mainstream computers are running Windows or a Mac operating system, phones have a large number of unique systems. That makes it tougher for viruses to run rampant like computers all connected via the world wide web.

Your phone may be acting strange, it might run slower than normal or even reset itself in odd situations. Look in your sent text message area to make sure they are legit messages that you sent yourself. Finally, keep an eye on your battery, if it is discharging at a rapid rate in comparison to what it usually does then you may have a problem.

If you’re going to get ring tones, do it from a trusted source such as your phone provider. They may cost money unlike the free websites, but it’s worth it.

Don’t subscribe to daily texts and if you get a strange text from an unknown non-local number don’t reply to it.

Make sure to turn off your Bluetooth if you don’t need it on, it will save you battery life regardless of whether you have a virus or not.

Keep in mind cell phone viruses to date are few and very far between but, as mentioned, the time is coming and you are better off safe than sorry.