IT Untangled: Does Your Work Phone Need Antivirus?
Does your smartphone have a virus? Would you know how to determine if it did? There are security vulnerabilities on your phone just like on your desktop or laptop. These vulnerabilities are likely to double if you use your work smartphone for sensitive information. Think email accounts, transactions, or accounts receivable. If any or all of that is linked to your phone without the proper security precautions, you might as well post your bank account number and pin on Facebook.
How likely you are to meet viruses or malware also depends on your operating system. But ultimately all smartphones are susceptible to viruses and malware that can lead to hacks, stolen info, and a mess for you to clean up.
No surprise, much like the PC vs Mac debate, 95% of malware threats, are targeted at Android. It's Google's fault. The laxness with app store options, combined with allowing almost anything in their stores plagues their system. This Android-specific malware has been popping up more and more. Protecting your phone against it could spare you a lot of time and trouble.
The latest and greatest threat is malvertising. Not a made up word at all! Malvertising is when ads on websites you visit spread malware. Detection is a huge obstacle. Your phone could be infected even if you don’t click on the ad. Tricky, right?
Luckily, there are many antivirus and antimalware apps available. They combat a large number of current threats and act quickly when new ones pop up. There are three tests we suggest you practice when picking your app:
- Check for the credibility of your app. Again, with the lax nature of the app stores, don’t download an app unless you are 100% sure that it is what it says it is. Do some research. Check for apps that have passed tests of real-world malware, firewalls, don’t take a toll on your battery life, and don’t trigger false alarms.
- Ask your IT department, outsourced or otherwise. Part of their job is to keep you and your system safe. They should have best practices and suggested options to try.
- Make sure you are comfortable with the interface. Having an antivirus that you can’t use or aren’t comfortable with doesn’t help.
When people say you don’t need antivirus on OS X or iOS, don’t let them fool you. This phone is a pared-down version of the Mac computer, meaning it’s still exposed to malware! Where Apple excels is the App Store.
You are less likely to download malware from the App Store. Apple calls it their "walled garden" approach. The big controversy is that Apple doesn't allow full system scanning apps in the App Store. They claim that the security in each iPhone is so sound you don't need system scanning. Their limited antivirus apps really only scan things like emails and attachments. The chances that you’ll actually require an antivirus is low, so that's not a huge problem.
Apple is not immune, however. If your phone is jailbroken, the percentage of malware attacks go up substantially. There are NO good jailbroken antivirus solutions. Since the App Store is on lockdown, the big wigs in antivirus don’t even offer full antiviral apps for iOS. Jailbroken phones aside, iPhones biggest threat lives in malvertising. Talk to your IT professional about which malvertising apps or mobile security solutions work best. Keep in mind, sometimes more than one is required.
Congrats to all Windows phone users, as you are the least targeted mobile operating system. Before you get too excited, Windows 10 Mobile, much like iOS, is a scaled-down version of Windows desktop. Again, that means that desktop malware could be altered and pushed to Windows Mobile.
The best thing you can do is limit or disable the use of third-party app stores. Be sure to follow up with your IT guy to make sure the latest version of your antivirus app(s) is up to date. The cool thing is that your computer antivirus probably will also makes a Windows Mobile version. Using it will be seamless, no learning curve.
Yes, Blackberry is back in the game like they never left. They make up a small share of the market. Compared to Android and iOS, it's not profitable to target them with malware, yet. BlackBerry does lack the "walled garden" that Apple supplies. Being open to multiple app stores means they are not completely safe.
Their low market share doesn’t help them in the antivirus department. Big brands don’t run independent tests on BlackBerry antivirus apps. They also still lack ad-blocking apps. While apps are still being developed, talk to your IT professional. They should be able to help you pick the most trusted antivirus brand available for your phone.
At the end of the day, it’s best to run some form of security protection on your phone, no matter the brand or operating system. If you don’t currently have one, talk to your IT professional, they can direct you to the best one for your business. Don’t risk downloading malware a second longer!
IT can be complicated. We're here to help "untangle" it for you.
IT Untangled aims to provide clarity on IT topics for business people. This weekly blog series will explain and discuss the complex world of IT, in words you understand.
About Accent Computer Solutions
Accent Computer Solutions, Inc. is a managed IT services and IT support provider, serving businesses with 30-500 employees throughout Southern California. The company is headquartered in Rancho Cucamonga, California, with IT professionals strategically located throughout San Bernardino, Riverside, Los Angeles, and Orange Counties, as well as Arizona, Texas, and Louisiana.