Is Your Cell Phone a Breeding Ground for Viruses and Malware?

Thumbnail image for cellphone-and-notebook.jpgCell phones are increasingly used as “replacement computers” while on the road.
They access corporate networks wirelessly and can connect to notebooks via USB. With the increased use of applications for cell phones – some created by “trusted” companies such as Apple and BlackBerry – millions of other applications are created by Facebook programmers, who we do not know.
Is your cell phone a potential host for malicious code and a base of operations for hackers?

The New York Times writes that the answer is no.

The NYT writes that the first reason cell phones in the US are relatively secure, is that although millions of cell phones are sold in the US, the overall market, and “worth while value” for hackers is small, compared to the larger number of cell phones in use around the world. Where do hackers have more of an interest? The hackers are more interested, at this time, in hacking Nokia phones running Symbian. These phones, not the iPhone, are much more popular outside of the United States.
Mikko H. Hyppönen, the chief research officer at F-Secure said that over the past five years, while analyzing 400 viruses for cell phones, and 2 million viruses for computers, the mobile viruses for the most part were not harmful. Many, for example, just leave your display looking “funny”.
Another barrier to your cell phone being hacked, according to the New York Times, is that While PC manufacturers have no control over what people put on their computers, that is generally not true for device makers and wireless carriers.
I don’t think it’s really necessary to have anti-virus software on your phone. But it can’t hurt.
The NYT writes that Verizon suggests some common-sense precautions. For instance, don’t respond to e-mail or text messages from strangers. Don’t click on links inside messages unless you’re certain they’re trustworthy.
This last tip is most important. Be careful and vigilant when using your cell phone.