Q: I recently bought a smartphone, and while I love its ability to access the Internet, to synchronize data with my office computer and to download and send e-mails when I’m out of the office, I’m worried about security. Not only did the phone come without antivirus software, but nowhere in its user guide is the subject even mentioned. Does that mean I’m safe, or do I need protection?
A: While there have been few phone viruses, that’s only because smartphones are relatively new and the bad guys who write malware are just starting to get into the act. So the bottom line is: Yes, there’s some risk.
The threat comes from multiple directions: viruses and other malware that are disseminated when you blithely open an e-mail attachment from a stranger or click on a dangerous website. Even more worrisome for smartphone users are the hundreds of thousands of applications designed especially for smartphones.
Some of the leading security software publishers have recently introduced antivirus software especially for phones, and surely the number will increase as the threat becomes more widely appreciated.
Short of buying antivirus software, there are practical steps you can take to reduce, but not totally eliminate, the danger. Since most phone app providers log the number of downloads and user ratings, don’t be one of the early users. Also, look for those with lots of positive user comments and excellent ratings. But be aware that even this sort of data can be deceptive.
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