So you’re browsing the web on your phone and you come across a link that looks interesting. You click it and suddenly find yourself watching an ad for some sort of anti-virus software, or maybe a page with a countdown timer that’s counting down to something bad. It looks like it might be an infection waiting to happen, but is it really?
I’m going to start by saying: iPhones can get viruses. The operating system (the software that makes your phone work) is called iOS, and while it’s super secure, there is still a chance of getting one. But before we get into that, let’s talk about what causes iPhone viruses in the first place.
- The short answer is yes
- Viruses on iPhones are very rare, but other types of malware are not.
- iPhone viruses most often originate through the Safari browser as drive-by downloads.
- Drive-by downloads take place when users accidentally visit malicious websites.
What is a virus?
In a friendly tone: With all the warnings out there about viruses, spyware, and other nasty cyber threats, it’s easy to get paranoid—but you have to remember that the Internet is just a big machine. And big machines sometimes have glitches—it’s part of what keeps them interesting! But no matter how many times people try to make their computers go haywire, they still work just fine.
Anyone who’s used a computer or a smartphone for any length of time has probably run across a virus warning at least once. We’ve all been told that if we open an attachment or click on a link, our phone will be infected with some terrible virus that will destroy everything in its path (and then proceed to destroy the rest of the world). But what are viruses, really? Viruses are just programs designed by malicious people. The only thing they can do is spread themselves around by tricking people into running them on their computers—so they’re not actually alive.
The term “virus” is commonly used to describe any piece of software that can infect a computer and cause it to perform an action that its user did not intend. This definition is rather broad, and leads to confusion because it includes many things that are not actually viruses. Viruses are actually a subset of this larger group, which also includes worms, trojans, and other types of malware. Viruses can be considered the most dangerous type of software, but only if they’re designed with malicious intent; otherwise, they have little effect on the world around them.
The technical definition of a virus is a program that can make copies of itself and transfer those copies to other files or programs on your computer. For example, a typical virus might look for email messages with particular subject lines (such as “let’s party tonight” or “I’ll be done at 4:00”) and send itself to everyone in your address book who matches one of those criteria—thus spreading itself further as more people receive it in their inboxes. The virus wouldn’t spread if you weren’t sending out email messages with those subject lines in the first place!
iOS vs. Android
The Internet is full of misinformation about the relative security of iPhones and Android phones, but this particular myth has been repeated so often that it seems to have taken on the weight of truth. Before you get worried about your iPhone becoming a zombie, though, let’s take a look at what’s really going on.
Android and iOS are two completely different operating systems made by two different companies. They both use a large number of open-source libraries (lots of code that’s publicly available and can be modified by anyone) in their operating systems, but they both have their own unique way of doing things.
Because they’re so different, it’s hard to compare them directly, but there are some factors that make Android seem more vulnerable than iOS. For example, Google allows Android apps to be installed from anywhere on the web (whereas Apple has built an App Store into its phones where all app downloads come from). iOS also limits the amount of permissions apps can request when they’re installed (for example, an app asking for access to contacts or location data when it’s installed).
This being said, Android does have some security issues that iPhone users don’t have to deal with.
How do viruses infect phones?
Viruses, worms, and trojans are all types of malware, or malicious software. They spread in a variety of ways, but they all do the same thing: once they’re on your device, they can get access to sensitive information like your contacts and photos, or worse, they could lock you out of your own phone or computer.
When it comes to smartphones, there are two main ways viruses can get onto your device: through an infected app (or “app”), or through phishing.
The first way is just like how you can download a virus onto your computer by clicking a link or opening an attachment that contains malicious software. It’s the same with smartphones—there are apps out there that can infect your phone if you download them from somewhere other than the official app store for Android or Apple phones. Or, if you’re using a Windows phone, you can get infected by downloading an infected app from the official Microsoft store.
You might not notice anything wrong right away when you’ve downloaded a virus to your phone, because it may take some time before the attacker has done something bad enough to make its presence known. It could be taking pictures of you when you don’t realize it, sending texts in your name to trick people.
How to tell if your phone has a virus?
First, you can check the battery life of your phone by going to “Settings” then “Battery.” If your battery is draining faster than it should be, this could be a sign that your phone has a virus.
If you want to go into more detail and check how much power your apps are using, you can do so by going to “Settings” then “Battery,” then “Battery use.” This will show you which apps are consuming the most battery. If an app is eating up more than its fair share of power, this could be a sign that it’s infected with a virus. Make sure to delete it!
What about all the other types of malware?
It’s well-known that the most common type of malware—malicious software that can infect your computer and cause damage—is the kind that comes to you in the form of an email attachment. It’s also known that these kinds of viruses tend to be more prevalent in emails with attachments than those without. But what about other types of malware? There are still plenty out there, each with a different method of infection.
First, let’s talk about viruses. These are programs that can replicate themselves, and they tend to do so by infecting other files on your computer. The virus can then spread throughout your hard drive, causing problems like destroying data or corrupting it. Some viruses might not even be obvious at first—they can lie dormant until some trigger event, like deleting a certain file or turning on a specific program, activates them and triggers them to begin their damage.
We’re focusing on four common types of malware: viruses, spyware, worms and Trojan horses. The two viruses we’ll talk about are self-replicating programs—they can infect a computer without any human interaction, unlike the other types of malware that require an action from their victims. The worm is a self-contained program that moves from computer to computer using either network connections or USB thumb drives; it doesn’t need to attach itself to an existing program to spread. The Trojan horse is a piece of software with some sort of useful function that also conceals an additional malicious function.
Smaller programs like these are usually delivered through e-mail or instant messaging attachments or links to malicious websites, but they can also be disguised as seemingly legitimate files (like audio or video files) and downloaded by way of peer-to-peer file sharing networks.
How to get rid of a virus on your phone?
- Firstly, make sure that your phone’s antivirus software is up to date. If it isn’t, update the software immediately. This is vital to prevent any further damage to your phone.
- The next step is to erase the virus from your phone. This can be done by entering the recovery mode and using the built-in hard drive eraser or memory cleaner in your phone. You might have to ask a technician for help if you don’t know how to enter recovery mode as it varies from phone to phone.
- Follow this with a factory reset, which will delete all the data on your phone and replace it with a fresh version of the operating system and default apps. A factory reset usually solves most problems that occur on a smartphone, and it’s also one of the first things you should do if you have an issue with your phone that you can’t resolve with just restarting it or doing a soft reset.
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What can I do if my phone is hacked?
Malware is a real and serious threat, but it’s important to understand that it’s not all-encompassing and there are things you can do to protect yourself from it. Malware comes in many different forms, from viruses that delete your files to spyware that tracks your location, and it’s impossible to protect yourself completely from all of them. But there are some things you can do that will make the malware you encounter less dangerous: -Install a good antivirus program on your computer and keep it up-to-date. Antivirus software will catch most malware before it has a chance to infect your computer.
- Don’t open suspicious or unexpected email attachments or click on suspicious links. This is one of the most common ways that malware gets into people’s computers.
- Keep your operating system (including browser) up-to-date so any security holes have been patched.
- Be careful about using USB drives at public computers. You risk infecting your own computer if you plug in a drive containing malware—even if the drive doesn’t belong to you, someone else might have put something on the drive without realizing what they were doing, and then transferred that malware onto your computer when you plugged in the drive later.
Learn about protecting your health, safety, and privacy when using smartphones.